JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Andy Dalton and A.J. Green Duo continued its star-studded road show Sunday at EverBank Field when Green logged the first back-to-back 100-yard games of his career and caught Dalton's textbook floater for an 18-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter that gave the Bengals a 24-10 lead. Mike Nugent's 35-yard field goal with 12:38 remaining accounted for the final points in the Bengals 27-10 victory.
Dalton, who came into the game with a perfect fourth quarter passer rating, threw a perfect over-the-shoulder touchdown ball to Green down the sideline past flabergasted cornerback Rashean Mathis to jack the lead to 24-10.
Dalton hit 20 of his 31 passes for 244 yards and had two touchdowns and an interception. He was able to convert only two third downs, but one was a big one when he hit slot receiver Andrew Hawkins over the middle beating safety Chris Prosinski for a 31-yard gain on third-and-seven that set up Green's touchdown catch.
The defense, missing four injured cornerbacks, got big efforts by the front four and the backup secondary. The Bengals had six sacks for the second straight game, two by tackle Geno Atkins, and safety Chris Crocker came off the couch to give the Bengals their first interception of the season in the fourth quarter. It set up Nugent's field goal for a 17-point lead.
The Bengals were one yard away from sealing Sunday's game with a 24-7 lead on the first drive of the second half, but running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis did the unthinkable and not only fumbled for the second time in as many weeks but fumbled in the end zone and gave the gasping Jaguars life.
Trailing 17-7, the Jags promptly went 76 yards on 12 plays while converting their first two third-down tries of the game, one on a sprint-out pass by quarterback Blaine Gabbert and the other on a one-yard push by running back Maurice Jones-Drew.
But on a third-and-6 from their 6, the Bengals blitzed and Gabbert was short on a slant pass covered by cornerback Adam Jones to force Josh Scobee's 22-yard field goal that cut Cincinnati's lead to 17-10 with 3:04 left in the third quarter.
Dalton and Green came out smoking in the second half with Green continuing his day-long fillet of Mathis. Green caught a perfect 30-yard rainbow from Dalton down the right sideline and then came back upfield on a Dalton scramble to get eight more. He then added an amazing full outstretched diving catch over the middle for 14 yards to the Jacksonville 6.
But then heartbreak on third-and-one from the 1 when Jags left end Jeremy Mincey wedged the ball from BJGE before he could get to the goal line a week after his NFL-record streak of 589 carries without a fumble was snapped. He did carry 20 times Sunday for the second time as a Bengal and finished with 82 yards on 26 carries, one off his career high.
Green waited until the first snap after the two-minute warning Sunday to make his first catch of the day. But he made it count.
After racing past Mathis down the right sideline, he looked up and Dalton had put a 42-yard beauty over his shoulder to put the ball at the 1. On second down Dalton took it himself and knifed between right guard Kevin Zeitler and right tackle Andre Smith for the touchdown with 1:11 left that gave the Bengals a 17-7 halftime lead.
As advertised the Jaguars defense didn't give up much. Dalton was 10-of-17 for 97 yards in the half on completions to eight different receivers. The undermmaned Bengals defense held Jones-Drew to 23 yards on eight carries and sacked Gabbert three times, once each by left end Carlos Dunlap, outside linebacker Manny Lawson, and defensive tackle Domata Peko as the Bengals blanked the Jags on five third-down tries.
BENGALS USE MORE TRICKERY
A week after stunning the Redskins with a touchdown pass from the Willdcat formation, Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis dipped into his bag of tricks again Sunday when a fake punt on fourth-and-one produced a 48-yard run by personal protector Cedric Peerman and set up the Bengals go-ahead touchdown at 10-7 with 6:16 left in the first half.
The longest run of Peerman's three-year career put the Bengals on the Jacksonville 18 and came off long snapper Clark Harris's direct snap that Peerman took around a wide-open right perimeter.
On third down Dalton took a shot at tight end Jermaine Gresham in the end zone. Jags safety Dwight Lowery was called for interference and gave the Bengals new life at the 1.
It was from there on second down that Dalton faked a run, rolled left and hit fullback Chris Pressley for his first career touchdown catch.
The Bengals fell behind, 7-3, when they started out a bit shaky against the Jaguars running game. Gabbert had a chip shot when he tossed a two-yard touchdown pass to tight end Marcedes Lewis covered by rookie linebacker Vontaze Burfict. Burfict was looking for a push-off penalty after Gabbert floated it over his head, but the Jags had a 7-3 lead early in the second quarter.
The lack of injured sure-tackling cornerbacks Nate Clements (calf) and Leon Hall (hamstring) surfaced on that drive when on a second-and-22 screen pass to Lewis, cornerback Adam Jones had a clear shot at him near the line of scrimmage but missed when he went for a rolling tackle at Lewis's cleats and it turned into a 23-yard gain.
Just like last week, Dalton threw an interception on his first throw deep in his own territory but this time the Bengals got it back when Jaguars linebacker Kyle Bosworth fumbled at the Bengals 9 on the run back and it was recovered by Andre Smith.
Dalton couldn't get his feet set as he faced pressure and he threw a high checkdown pass to Pressley. It bounced off Pressley's hands into Boworth's at the Bengals 23.
And, just like last week, Dalton steadied himself and with the help of a roughing-the-passer call on third down against blitzing safety Antwon Blake, the Bengals consumed 6:11 on 14 plays to get a 35-yard field goal to give them a 3-0 lead with 6:10 left in the first quarter.
The Bengals had a rough start with the new/old refs with four penalties on the first series for each unit: Right end Michael Johnson and middle linebacker Rey Maualuga were offisides, safety Jeromy Miles had a block in the back on a punt return, and wide receiver Andrew Hawkins had a false start.
But Cincinnati's first scoring drive was started on Hawkins's 11-yard catch over the middle and aided by Green-Ellis's 13-yard run to the right as well as rookie wide receiver Marvin Jones's first NFL catch when he outfought cornerback Derek Cox on the sideline for a five-yard gain.
PREGAME NOTES:As feared the Bengals iced their four injured cornerbacks for Sunday's game against the Jaguars at EverBank Field and Nate Clements (calf) didn't even make the trip a week after he made his first NFL start at safety.
Staring right corner Leon Hall (hamstring) was a scratch for the second straight week and Clements, Jason Allen (thigh) and Dre Kirkpatrick (knee) joined him on the inactive list.
For the second straight week, backup corners Adam Jones and Terence Newman got the starts with safeties Jeromy Miles and Reggie Nelson expected to get snaps at corner on passing downs, as well as new addition Chris Crocker.
Crocker, who signed in time to practice Thursday after not being with a team since he started the Bengals playoff game back in January, was active and is expected to play. Miles isn't listed as a starting safety, but he made the start the week before the Bengals moved Clements to his spot.
Also inactive was running back Bernard Scott (ankle) for the third time in the season's four games with an ankle injury. The Bengals went with five linebackers instead of six when they made backup linebacker Roddrick Muckelroy inactive and made sure they had four defensive ends and enough offensive linemen active with center Jeff Faine starting despite being limited last week with a hamstring issue.
The Bengals also went with six receivers instead of five, putting up rookie Marvin Jones while Ryan Whalen has yet to be active this season. Also inactive all season is Kirkpatrick (knee).
As kickoff approached, the field was draped in muggy temperatures that hit 90 degrees on the heat index.
Head coach Marvin Lewis sent out for his captains wide receiver Andrew Hawkins and left guard Clint Boling on offense, middle linebacker Rey Maualuga and defensive tackle Geno Atkins on defense and linebacker Vincent Rey on special teams. The Bengals won the toss and chose to kick.
SLANTS AND SCREENS
» The Bengals are hoping the decimated secondary doesn't signal a breakout game for first-round pick Justin Blackmon. His first three games have been a struggle. As noted in last week's Florida Times-Union, Blackmon has played 88.3 percent of the Jaguars offensive snaps but been the intended receiver only 15 times. He's got four catches for 31 yards.
» If Andy Dalton hits the 300-yard passing mark again Sunday, it would be the first time a Bengals quarterback did it in three straight games since Ken Anderson did it 28 Septembers ago against the Broncos (323), Chiefs (310) and Jets (316). The Bengals lost all three to start the 1984 season and the head coaching career of Sam Wyche.
» The Bengals offense has come up with four 50-plus-yard touchdowns this season, but they have to worry about getting it right back from Jags running back Maurice Jones-Drew. He went off last week on a 59-yard touchdown run against the Colts for his seventh career TD run of 50-plus yards and his first since 2009.