Andy Dalton sifted the Chiefs on 71 percent passing Sunday.
After the Chiefs had been dispatched Sunday, 36-21, at Paul Brown Stadium by a Bengals offense that reeled off nearly nine yards per snap in just 50 plays against a defense teeming with Pro Bowlers and after head coach Marvin Lewis had mused cautiously about the second 4-0 start in his 13-year tenure, the projected numbers tell you just how dangerous and diverse these Bengals are.
After sifting Kansas City for 10.2 yards per attempt on 71 percent passing, quarterback Andy Dalton is on pace to shatter his own club record for yards and touchdown passes, as well as Carson Palmer's record for passer rating and Greg Cook's 45-year-old record for yards per attempt.
Wide receiver A.J. Green would eclipse Chad Johnson's single-season Bengals record for receiving yards by more than 200 yards. Running back Jeremy Hill would be the first Bengal to score 20 touchdowns in a season and Tyler Eifert's 888 yards would be 22 yards shy of Dan Ross' 34-year-old club record for tight ends.
After wide receiver Mohamed Sanu's 84 yards on four catches made him the club's third different leading receiver this season, four players are on pace to catch at least 644 yards, another franchise first as offensive coordinator Hue Jackson kills them softly with options galore.
Throw in the old man in the receivers room making the longest play of the day on his first catch of the season and that's not even getting into an offensive line that has more eligible receivers than ABC has eligible bachelors.
Suddenly, Dalton is two games away from tying Palmer's mark for six straight games with a triple-digit passer rating that he set in the first six games of 2005, the last time the Bengals went 4-0. And the Bengals are two games away from tying their best start of 6-0 in the Super Bowl year of 1988.
"We said it back in OTAs,' said Hill, who ran out of his funk with three touchdowns to lead a 4.8-yard per day against a defense that was allowing 3.8.
"Just the feel of the locker room, just the feel of the team is different now," Hill said. "The expectations are higher. People are starting to expect us to do the things we expect to do and we want to deliver and work hard. The sense of urgency is definitely a lot higher. We know what's at stake. We know how important winning is. You can feel it. A lot of guys are stepping up and making plays."
They had to when the Chiefs started to mix it up on him after Green strafed them for 78 yards on six catches in the first half on the way to 82 yards on seven catches. They started mobilizing when he fried them for 50 yards on three catches in the first three minutes, the biggest a 36-yarder past transfixed slot corner Ron Parker.
Green was transfixed, too, because Dalton couldn't get a handle on a low shot-gun snap and he was wondering what was happening behind him. Dalton was picking it off the carpet like a wayward cracker and calmly re-setting a pearl.
"I just heard the noise. Everybody was yelling, I looked up and the ball was there," Green said. "I didn't know what happened. I just heard everybody going crazy. Did he throw a pass? Hey, that throw is coming to me. . . . They play a lot man and we've got a lot of guys that can beat man-to-man."
There were moments when the Chiefs bracketed him with a linebacker, a ploy that once upon a time meant certain death to the Bengals offense. In fact, Green said he hadn't seen such a coverage in two years. The most glaring double coverage was on Hill's five-yard touchdown run in the waning seconds of the third quarter that basically won it because it gave them a two-score edge with 15 minutes to play.
After going for 227 yards last week, A.J. Green singed the Chiefs early with 78 more yards in the first half.
With Green split wide right, the Chiefs put two defenders right on either side of him, only to watch Hill score on the other side of the field when right tackle Andre Smith and right guard Kevin Zeitler pulled left on the power play and Hill made the DB Parker miss.
"We've got so many guys that can make a play," Green said.
But, really, the big plays by the other guys weren't by-products of funky coverages on Green. Just Dalton finding people running open.
Sanu's 52-yarder came out of the slot in a Cover 2 and no one touched him or Green off the line or in the middle. Wide receiver Brandon Tate's 55-yard TD came off a broken play via Dalton's alert scramble. Eifert's 30-yard catch came with Green lined up one-on-one on Smith and what made the play was outside backer Tamba Hali dropping in coverage and then getting burned by Eifert coming the other way on a throw-back pass.
"Tate's the ultimate pro,' said Green of the seven-year vet's first play from scrimmage. "He comes in and makes plays every day in practice just like this. He's a great guy. I Iearn a lot from him. He always tells me what I need to improve on and I learn from him."
Advantage, Dalton, who seems like he could find the beer vendor in any section and get a first down. Everybody on offense and defense was raving about him after this one.
"He's playing out of his mind right now," Green said. "We all know what kind of guy he is. His confidence is through the roof. He looks like a commander out there. He knows what they're going to run, what play needs to be checked to, and he gets us in the best play possible."
Cincinnati Bengals host the Kansas City Chiefs at Paul Brown Stadium week 4 of the regular season.
From the other side of the ball, cornerback Adam Jones tossed a salute.
"Andy is playing great right now. I'm Andy's No. 1 fan. I'm happy for No. 14," Jones said. "I've always believed in the guy. If we win, you give praise, and if we lose, you shoot Andy. I'm happy for the guy."
Talk about the weapons at Dalton's disposal, it even involves the offensive line.
The Chiefs defense loaded up in the box with eight men as they usually do, and often checked into their Bears look that covered up the guard and two centers. So Jackson loosened them up with zone reads, speed options, and creative formations that at times deployed two tackles.
Dalton put such a slick move on Chiefs linebacker Dee Ford on a zone read that he was telling teammates he should have handed it off.
"I knew I had to get out of bounds,' he said of the five-yard pickup.
In one sequence, left tackle Andrew Whitworth lined up in the backfield and then switched to set up as the tight end on the end of the line next to the man that replaced him at left tackle, Eric Winston. Whitworth had to come out for the next snap because he had been tackle eligible.
So rookie Jake Fisher lined up at left tackle and pulled on the power play with left guard Clint Boling and they cleared the way for Hill to score the first touchdown less than four minutes into the game once he stiff-armed cornerback Marcus Peters back into the first round of the draft.
Whitworth didn't notice any checks to the run because he says Dalton has the ability to do what he wants at the line of scrimmage, so the run game is one big check with me.
"I think it's just part of the play," Whitworth said. "It just shows you how cerebral he is at the line and how much he helps us. This was a good win. Whatever they threw at us, we adjusted."
And it means Hill is back in the groove.
"The biggest difference to me is our offensive line got so much push," Hill said. "It was kind of weird to see them get that push. Making you read a little more quickly. They were getting push down the field and allowing me to set things up. Those were just wide-open holes. When they're making it that easy for me, it makes it a lot easier to make guys miss."
Hill, last year's rookie 1,000-yard runner, came out of the gate a little tentatively at three yards per his first 41 carries. That seemed to be all in the past after he gobbled up 40 yards on nine carries while Giovani Bernard had 62 on 13 carries. His first two TD runs, the stiff-arm of Peters and the juke of Parker, was the stuff of 2014.
"Just listening to my coaches and teammates and everyone else," Hill said. "You just have to make guys miss in this league. I don't think I did a good job of that in the first few weeks. I just have to keep pounding and I think I did a good job of that."
Dalton flashed that confidence that seems to be enveloping his team as much as him. First came an uncharacteristic show of emotion when he scrambled for a first down late and he made the first down signal.
And then this with a big smile in his post-game presser.
"I kept asking him, 'What happened to Jeremy Hill?'" Dalton said. "Jeremy played like he is capable (of playing) today."
They all did and that makes you wonder what happens next.