Before we fast-forward to Bengals wide receiver Armon Binns's reunion Sunday (4:05 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 12) with the Jacksonville team that cut him last year in favor of someone named Jamar Newsome, rewind and go back to last Sunday and Binns's first NFL touchdown catch against the Redskins.
This is why they talk about being on the same page. This why they talk about running the right route at the right time. This is what drove Carson Palmer nuts and currently has Andy Dalton as the NFL's fourth-leading passer.
"We've got a lot of reliable guys, like I've said from the beginning," Dalton said Wednesday. "Guys that are always going to be in the right spot. Not only that, but they are talented guys."
Binns is one of those five guys to whom Dalton has thrown a touchdown, and in just three NFL games Binns has transferred the reliability he showed in practice to games. Dalton has thrown Binns 13 passes and he's caught 12 for an average of 13.1 yards.
Binns arrived here from Jacksonville a year and a week ago after the Jags whacked him in the final cut and receivers coach James Urban said he showed up with the same natural instincts he had at the University of Cincinnati. But now he has spent a year polishing it.
"He's great natural instincts. He knows when he's open and how to get open," Urban said. "Now he's meshing those instincts with route-running and to his credit, Armon has really worked on his route-running since he's been here. That's the biggest thing he's improved."
First quarter. Center Jeff Faine has just been called for a hold. Second-and-20 from the Redskins 48. Here come the Redskins with one of their zero blitzes that leave the receivers one-on-one.
Binns runs what Urban calls "a typical speed cut out route" to his left and the sideline. Dalton knows the Redskins have more blitzers than he has blockers and Dalton is staring right at the unblocked man bearing down at him as he rifles the ball to where Binns better be.
"Andy has great confidence that Armon is going to be in the right spot and the right depth," Urban said. "If Armon is too short, too quick, that DB drives it. If he's too deep, it may be a pick-six (touchdown off an interception). Predictability and reliability."
Redskins cornerback Josh Wilson is playing so soft on Binns's cut that he can't get to the sideline in time to tackle him and with no one behind him because of the blitz, he can only watch Binns run away for the score.
"And he's shown some nifty moves," Urban said. "He's got quicker feet than you think."
Certainly quicker than the Jags thought. Binns didn't mind relaying Wednesday what the Jags told him when they cut him.
"They just said it was real close. It came down to the wire to me and one other guy. It was just some inconsistencies on my part that the other dude was doing a little bit better than me and they made a decision," Binns said. "It was a lot going on there. They were letting go of their coach halfway through the year and it was just a lot of chaos over there. I think it worked out better for me coming here where it was somewhere where it was more stable."
That other guy was Central Florida's Newsome, like Binns, an undrafted rookie. But the Jags let Newsome go after he played in two games and he's on the Chiefs practice squad without an NFL catch.
"It's something I'll never forget. I talk to Urb about it all the time. It's something that motivates me, being looked over," Binns said. "Being told you're not good enough is something that's very hard for me to let go and it's something that drives me to be as good as I can be when I come to work every day."
But at the same time Binns is downplaying the showdown. Once in a while, he says, he hits up Jags receiver Cecil Shorts II and lineman Will Rackley on Twitter. But that's about it.
"It's going to be crazy. I'm just trying to play it as another game. You don't want to get too big on any one game," Binns said. "You want to go in there and you want to do your job. The game is not about me. The game is about our team going to Jacksonville and coming out of there 3-1. So I'm just preparing like I've been preparing and go try and play as best as I can to help this team win.
"I don't go in there with any agenda, man," he said. "The product on the field will speak for itself if I go out there and do my job as I've been doing and if we come out of there with a victory."
The 6-3, 210-pound Binns is doing more than running good routes. He's watching his own teammate in practice as well as other Pro Bowlers on tape.
"I like to watch a lot of bigger guys. Larry Fitzgerald. I like to watch Marques Colston a lot. Andre Johnson," he said. "Guys who are similar in size to me and to see how they play and how corners play them.
"What I can pick up from (A.J. Green) is just how he runs his routes, his body lean, he's tall just like me, how DB's like to play him, where they like to quick-jam him and things like that."
Binns also knows exactly which target he didn't catch.
"I think it was in Baltimore. It was a curl. I actually didn't run a very good route and the pass was kind of outside of me. It was just a timing thing," he said.
But as Binns, the Bengals and the Jaguars are finding out, it's all about the timing.*
DUNLAP RETURN: This is how it goes sometimes.
Bengals left end Carlos Dunlap made a huge play in his 2012 debut Sunday when late in the first half he had a sack and strip of Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III at the Washington 12 that set up a Bengals touchdown.
Two things were odd about it. First, defensive line coach Jay Hayes was trying to limit Dunlap in his first game back from a sprained knee to plays in the pass defense, but that play came on second-and-7 in the base defense.
"I tried to keep him to a pitch count. No number (of snaps) necessarily, I just didn't want to give him too many plays," Hayes said after Wednesday's practice. "He started getting into the game like he does, so I let him go in and he made a play. But I was, 'Hey, you need to remember, you're not all the way back.' "
And second, Dunlap made the play, but he didn't do it within the scheme, as head coach Marvin Lewis recounted it in his Wednesday news conference.
"When Carlos made the big play on the fumble ... he wasn't where he was supposed to be, but he makes a big play," Lewis said. "Their coaches are saying, 'Wait a second now, how can he be here? He needs to be here and this guy's got to be there.' Our coaches were trying to explain, 'Carlos, you're in the wrong spot. That's not your responsibility. Great football play, but not your job, my man.' Everybody had to get back adjusted because we were on tilt there for a little bit."**
As Hayes said, the Redskins responded to Dunlap's aggressive play on the quarterback and began pitching it to the running backs in the second half as the Bengals struggled with the option.
"(Dunlap) told me, 'I was baiting him,' " Hayes said. "I said, 'Don't do that again,' and you saw what happened. It just led to them handing the ball off to the back. Option football. Responsibility."
But all's well that ends well. Dunlap ended up playing 45 snaps, more than Hayes wanted, but with the Redskins down by 14 points with 7:08 left in the game, there was a lot of passing.
"It was more than I anticipated," Hayes said. "As he got into the flow of the game, he was ready. I wanted to hold him back, but I needed him."
Hayes thought Dunlap held up well, and he's encouraged that the Bengals now have a four-man rotation at end this Sunday for the second straight week.
LAW FIRM WON'T REST: Running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis handled his streak-ending fumble Wednesday just like he did after the game Sunday.
"It's football. No one play ever lasts past the whistle, so you move on to get better," he said. "I never think about it. I go through the ball security points and things like that, but as far as dwelling on something, or saying it was going to happen, I never thought about it like that and I never play the game like that."
The number is now 589 touches without a fumble at the beginning of a career, an NFL record since the league began keeping the record when World War II ended. Known as the man who never fumbled, Green-Ellis doesn't feel like he's lost a sense of identity.
"I don't think identity is set off by one particular thing," he said. "Identity comes (over) a period of time. Consistency. Things you do, not one particular thing. I don't feel that way."