The Bengals gutted the fourth-ranked Jets defense Sunday at sold-out Paul Brown Stadium when quarterback Andy Dalton threw a career-high five touchdown passes, a team record four to wide receiver Marvin Jones, and the defense did the rest as Cincinnati flexed its muscles in the AFC playoff picture during a 49-9 rout that lifted the Bengals to 6-2 with their fourth straight victory before 62,576.
Safety Chris Crocker picked off Jets rookie Geno Smith on the first snap of the second half and raced 32 yards for his first interception return for a touchdown since 2004 and moments after jawing with the Jets sideline, cornerback Adam Jones stepped in front of a sideline-route and continued the torture of his fellow West Virginia product when he cut back on Smith to complete a 60-yard interception return with 13:09 eft in the game as the Bengals held the Jets to three field goals.
Marvin Jones caught three touchdown passes in the first half and secured his first 100-yard day with 116 on six catches on his way to a 122-yard day on eight catches.
When Dalton hit Marvin Jones with his fifth red-zone touchdown pass of the day late in the third quarter on a six-yarder, that gave Jones the Bengals record for four touchdown catches in a game and put him in rare company with running backs Larry Kinnebrew (1984) and Corey Dillon (1997) with four of any kind in a game.
It was fitting the Bengals would go to 4-0 at home for the first time since the high-octane 1988 AFC champions with the biggest offensive explosion of the Dalton-A.J. Green era. While directing the Bengals to the most points since the 58-spot Cincinnati put on Cleveland in 2004, Dalton, with his third straight 300-yard game with at least three touchdown passes, played just three quarters and rung up 325 yards on 19-of-30 passing for a 125 passer rating that gave him four straight games of triple digits. In the four game winning streak, he has 11 touchdowns and three interceptions.
But it was a costly. Middle linebacker Rey Maualuga left with a concussion and may not be available for Thursday night's quick turnaround in Miami. Safety Taylor Mays injured his shoulder on the last snap of the first half and was done for the day, making him at least questionable for Miami. And left tackle Andrew Whitworth went out late in the first half with a knee injury and has an MRI scheduled Monday.
Then early in the second half wide receiver Mohamed Sanu left with a shoulder injury.
Marvin Jones tied the receiving record with 16 seconds left in the half on third down from the Jets 14 as the Bengals tried to hurry in a score after Brandon Tate had the club's longest kick return of the season on a 71-yarder that put the ball at the Jets 29 with 57 seconds left in the half.
Dalton, virtually untouched in the pocket during the half, had plenty of time on third down from the Bengals 14 and he stepped up when he saw Jones working on safety Dawan Landry in the right corner. Jones made a leaping catch going out of bounds and glided his second foot behind him at the last instant.
The play was originally ruled incomplete but then was overturned.
When Crocker picked off Smith while patrolling the slot to make it 35-6, the idea suddenly was to get to Thursday with no more mayhem.
The outburst was so complete that a Dalton interception and the failure to score a touchdown on fourth-and-one couldn't stop the Bengals after the Jets cut the lead to 14-3 on Nick Folk's 45-yard field goal with 9:09 left in the first half.
At that point Dalton went to two non-Green options. He lofted a perfect 24-yard pass to Sanu over his shoulder down the left sideline beating rookie cornerback Dee Milliner just before he went out of bounds. Then on the same side Dalton drilled a quick out to Marvin Jones and he set sail on a 45-yard play that featured about 35 yards after catch down to the Jets 6 after he made at last three defenders miss with a variety of cutbacks.
From there on third down, Jones repeated what he did on his first touchdown catch and got good enough position near the left pylon and Dalton hit him with a back-shoulder throw to make it 21-3 with 6:13 left in the half.
The Bengals came out briskly and efficiently. Dalton hit eight of his first 10 passes for 94 yards in directing touchdown drives of 80 and 68 yards, much of the snaps coming out of the no-huddle. Dalton targeted six receivers in that first drive and hit four of them with the touchdown coming on that nine-yard back-shoulder throw to Jones on the left pylon. Sanu drew a 34-yard interference call on cornerback Antonio Cromartie on a bomb down the middle at the Jets 9 to set up the score.
Jones, who has had breakout games the last three weeks, set up the second touchdown when he fried Milliner going down the middle and then dragged him for about an extra 10 yards on a 30-yard play. Dalton then found tight end Jermaine Gresham running wide open across the back of the end zone against badly matched linebacker Calvin Pace for a four-yard touchdown pass to make it 14-0 after the first two series.
Milliner, the Jets first-round pick out of Alabama, got benched in the second half as Dalton found seven different receivers.
Meanwhile the Bengals defense made life miserable for the rookie Smith on his first two series that both ended in sacks and the day didn't get any better.
Enter Bengals safety Reggie Nelson. On the first series he blitzed off the right edge as tackle Geno Atkins pushed left guard Brian Winters into Smith for a sack on third-and-seven.
Then on the next series on an another third-and-seven, Nelson roared in untouched and had a free shot at Smith for the sack.
That one resulted in Dalton's 53-yard bomb to Green running past Cromartie, the first of two 53-yarders for Green as he went over 100 yards for the third straight week with three catches for 115 yards.
Dalton went downtown right away to Green beating Cromartie on the second snap of the game down the left sideline and it would have been a 78-yard touchdown but Cromartie got a hand out at the last minute to tip it away.
Smith finished the half just 9-of-13 for 81 yards with the two sacks and the game 20 of 30 for just 159 yards, the two pick-sixes and a passer rating of51.9
PREGAME NOTES: Bengals rookie defensive end Margus Hunt dressed out for the second time this season Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium when he took the place of tackle Devon Still (elbow) on the active list against the Jets.
Cornerback Brandon Ghee (thigh) returned for the first time since his season debut in Cleveland on Sept. 29, taking the place of cornerback Leon Hall. It's believed Hall undergoes surgery for his torn Achilles on Monday and that the Bengals plan to put him on season-ending injured reserve before Thursday's game (8:25 p.m.-NFL Network) in Miami.
Also inactive for Sunday were offensive linemen Trevor Robinson and Tanner Hawkinson, running back Rex Burkhead, wide receiver Ryan Whalen and cornerback Chris Lewis-Harris. The Bengals captains for Sunday were pretty much the guys that walked out there last week in Detroit: For the offense it was left tackle Andrew Whitworth and quarterback Andy Dalton, for the defense it was tackle Domata Peko and safety Reggie Nelson and for special teams it was Cedric Peerman and Vincent Rey. The Jets won the toss and deferred to the second half.
KEEP AN EYE ON: Bengals special teams coach Darrin Simmons could only shake his head after practice one day last week. He couldn't get away from Josh Cribbs for even a year.
Cribbs, the famed punt and kick returner who kept the Browns on the map for the previous eight seasons, played his first game as a Jet last week, returned both punts and kicks, and is ready to do it again Sunday.
"He's kept me up late many nights and he's doing it again," Simmons said. "Any time you're talking about Josh Cribbs, you have to talk about how physical and how hard he runs and your No. 1 priority has to be getting him on the ground."