The first three touchdown catches were nice. Two were of the back-shoulder variety and one was an A.J. Green-acrobatic-dance-9.5-from-the-Olympic-judge to keep both feet in.
But the fourth touchdown catch that put Marvin Jones in the Bengals record book ahead of Green, Chad Johnson, Isaac Curtis, Eddie Brown and all the other great Bengals wide receivers is what the man now nicknamed Marvelous Marv is all about.
Late in the third quarter of Cincinnati's improbable 49-9 victory Sunday over the Jets at sold-out Paul Brown Stadium and quarterback Andy Dalton looking at a second-and-six from the Jets 6, Dalton went to his left to hit Jones on a quick-hitter behind the block of tight end Tyler Eifert.
With safety Jaiquawn Jarrett barging in and grabbing at Jones's waist as he caught the ball, Jones spun out of his grasp and crashed into the end zone to pluck the record with the hard-nosed 15.4 yards per catch that has defined his sophomore breakout season.
"He was just looking at the coverage and the guys were off," Jones said of Dalton. "It wasn't like 'Let's get him another one.' "
That's not the way the Bengals do it around these parts, where they like to believe any of their six wide receivers could have a big day such as the one Jones enjoyed against the NFL's fourth-best defense. Even after his record and career day with eight catches for 122 yards, Jones has the fifth-most catches on the team with 24, the same as Eifert.
"That's the thing. This whole week everybody said, 'You never know who is going to get the ball,' " Jones said. "You run every route like you're getting the ball. That's what we do anyway, but sometimes you have to expect the unexpected. I'm glad it was mine today."
But he leads everyone with seven touchdowns, two more than the two-time Pro Bowler Green. And Jones has done it with that same brew of toughness and speed that drew the Bengals scouts and coaches while he was playing at the University of California. "You don't know about guys from California," offensive coordinator Jay Gruden said with a smile, invoking the finesse stereotype.
"I don't know anything about that," said Jones, finally able to take off his undershirt an hour after the game to reveal his injured shoulder. "I mean, where I'm from, the people I'm around, we're tough."
When Gruden showed up Sunday, he didn't know if Jones was going to play. When he saw Jones in warmups, Gruden wasn't sure that Jones should go and he told wide receivers coach James Urban, "Let's keep an eye on him. He's a little banged up."
Jones practiced only on Friday last week after landing heavily on his left shoulder catching—of course—a touchdown last week in Detroit and Gruden observed, "He didn't look himself. He was sore."
But on Sunday, Green was recounting Jones's toughness.
"Marv comes out to play every week; every week he goes out with a chip on his shoulder," Green said. "It's good for a young guy to have that mentality. He's banged up, but that's one guy who's going to fight no matter what. He's not going to miss a game."
Not another game where a team is going to decide if it is going to double anybody, it's going to be Green. He laughed when asked if defenses are going to start shading him.
"You never know," he said. "Whatever they do, I'm sure we'll have a good game plan."
The Jets, though, pretty much covered everybody man-to-man, and Green burned them for two plays of 53 yards on the way to 115. Jones, meanwhile, keeps proving he's a handful in man coverage after beating a variety of New York defensive backs for six touchdowns in the last three games.
He went after New York's first-rounder on the first one, cornerback Dee Milliner, on a nine-yard back-shoulder, and did the same thing to cornerback Darrin Walls, a 2012 free agent from Notre Dame, from six yards out. Then with 16 seconds left in the half, Jones got position on veteran safety Dawan Landry on the sideline in the end zone and Dalton sidearmed it over Walls and into Jones's window just before he fell out of bounds.
Then Jones broke the tackle of Jarrett, a 2012 free agent of Temple, as Jones finished his tour through the spectrum of NFL DBs.
"He's really comfortable with what we're doing," Dalton said. "He understands running routes, and knowing that, 'OK, if this guy is playing me this way, I'm going to run my route like this.' That just comes with the time of playing and seeing different looks. He's had the potential since he's been here. I think he's just comfortable with everything that we're doing and everything that we're asking him to do."
Never was that more apparent than on the first two touchdowns when Jones and Dalton executed the current rage among quarterbacks and their targets by going "back shoulder," the ultimate weapon against one-on-one. Since it is underthrown to the back of the receiver, it's far enough away from the defender.
"It's about trust and feel. We all do a good job in practice. The receivers are getting on board with the back-shoulder throws," Jones said. "It's a hard throw to stop. When you're in cahoots with your quarterback doing those things, it's hard to stop. We know. Normally when the cornerback is looking at you and not the quarterback, it's like stealing."
The Dalton Gang puts in extra time to plan their highway robberies.
"Sometimes on Thursdays, Saturdays and on Fridays we have extra meetings, just with us — the quarterbacks, receivers, running backs and tight ends," Jones said. "It's just having that extra time to see the game through each other's eyes and be really confident and comfortable in what the plan is and what we have to do. That's big, and that's something that Andy's been doing a good job of, and getting us all in and all ready to go."
Jones not only became the first NFL player to score four touchdowns in a game since Randy Moss and Terrell Owens did it on Nov. 18, 2007, it was the first time he ever did it anywhere. The closest he came was in college when the Orange County native came home as a sophomore and scored two touchdowns in the first half against UCLA. That was it.
And could there be anyone more unlike Moss or Owens? Or for that matter Chad Johnson, the last Bengals receiver to catch three touchdown passes in a game and the man for whom Lewis was traded since he arrived via the Patriots 2012 fifth-round pick?
The most controversial thing the 23-year-old Jones did Sunday was to keep his gloves instead of giving them away like he usually does.
"Maybe I'll frame them," he wondered.
There was also a birthday party to plan and a Halloween jaunt to prepare. He'll be home Friday from the Miami game when his youngest son has his second birthday. But he won't be there Thursday night when four-year-old Marvin Jones III tries to Trick or Treat again.
"Last year it was 37 degrees, so his perception is it isn't very fun; he doesn't like it," Jones said.
Sounds like a Jets DB trying to cover Dad.