EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. _ Bengals running back Chris Evans didn't rest on the laurels of his 41-yard kick return in the preseason opener and with the soundtrack of special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons burning his ears he went even longer with a 73-yarder Sunday night against the Giants in a 25-22 preseason loss at MetLife Stadium.
Simmons, a notorious perfectionist who hands out compliments every other eclipse, didn't find much fault with the 41-yarder. Except he wasn't happy that Evans stepped out of bounds without challenging the kicker.
But when Evans, the second-year bolt out of the Michigan blue, accelerated up the right sideline, he rudely shook Giants kicker Graham Gano to the side and kept going for 15 more yards. Gano then departed to concussion protocol and punter Jamie Gillan had to kick.
"The kicker pushed me out-of-bounds last week. (Simmons) told me not to get pushed out-of-bounds," Evans said. "I kind of stiff-armed the kicker a little bit. I don't want to hurt the kicker because I know he's not going to tackle me. But I kind of pushed him a little hard.
"After going back, they said he kind of hit his head on the ground. My heart goes out to him, but I just had to do my job."
Evans thought he was going all the way until 6-5 linebacker Cam Brown knocked him out at the Giants 24.
"I thought I was going to the crib," Evans said. "When I started running, I'll be looking on the inside. I've got to look straight and time it up when they're about to dive so I can stiff arm them. The dude, 47, his arms are long. He got me. I could have scored."
Ask if he solidified the return job, he answered in true Simmons fashion.
"I don't think I've solidified anything," Evans said. "I'm just trying to do my job."
_Bengals safety Michael Thomas went to a Pro Bowl as a Giants special teamer four years ago and his position coach back then, Thomas McGaughey, is still there. So after Bengals head coach Zac Taylor made Thomas a game captain, Thomas shot down field on a kickoff, separated C.J. Board from the ball and saw Bengals linebacker Keandre Jones recover the ball at the Giants 15.
"If I can be completely honest," Thomas said, "I wanted to go down there and smack that dude because T. Mac and the Giants were giving it to me a little bit. They were going to test me. Thomas McGaughey, that's my guy.
"I wanted to go make a tackle. I had no clue the ball came out until I saw everybody squirming."
Thomas said he didn't hear so much from them after the forced the fumble.
"A lot of their coaches, there are still a lot of players over there," Thomas said of his two seasons with the Giants. "It's all love. They love me, I love them."
This is why the Bengals coaches love Thomas. He produces no matter how little he plays. This last week in the opener, he had five tackles on defense and teams combined despite playing just 25 snaps. Here Sunday, he had the strip, plus a tackle on defense.
And he enjoyed being a game captain with wide receiver Michael Thomas .
"Never happened before, right?" he said.
_Rookie left guard Cordell Volson played every snap and while he said there are things he can improve, he looked as if he held up against a very good pass rush.
When the Bengals had the ball on the Giants 43 with nine seconds left, they were hoping to inch a little closer so Evan McPherson could try a long one to tie it. Even better, there's no overtime in preseason.
But Volson was called for a false start and the last play got blown up in a fumble.
"Just a little miscommunication. Another thing we've just got to get cleaned up," said Volson, who moved some people in the second half's two touchdown drives, particularly Jacques Patrick's stand-up-three-yard touchdown run.
_First-round pick Dax Hill sure doesn't play like a rookie. He didn't for the second straight week and intercepted Giants starting quarterback Daniel Jones for his first career interception until the regular season. Hill broke on a batted ball from tight end Dan Bellinger covered by rookie cornerback Allan George.
"I have been working every practice making sure my hands are getting better," Hill said. "I just made a good play and the ball just found me. Just made a play."
Before that he made a third down stop in space that set up edge Joseph Ossai's fourth-and-one stop on the first series.
_Linebacker Clay Johnston says it's as tired as he's ever been in a brilliant 20-tackle night that also included a sack. Johnston, who had 238 career tackles in his hard-hitting Baylor career, says it's the first time he ever had 20 in his life.
"But that two-minute drill broke my heart," Johnston said of the game's final touchdown.