No question the biggest offensive play of the year is quarterback Andy Dalton's 28-yard pass to wide receiver Marvin Jones on Sunday on the next-to-last play of the third quarter in the 13-6 win over the Patriots at Paul Brown Stadium.
Dalton had nearly been dumped for a safety the snap before on blitzing linebacker Jerod Mayo's sack at the Bengals 2. Even though the Bengals were leading, 6-3, it looked like Patriots head coach Bill Belichick had the Bengals right where he wanted them in his games of field position. There would be a back-line punt and Tom Brady would get the ball inside the 50 and …
But, instead, the Bengals outfoxed the Patriots and quick-snapped the Pats before they could get lined up. Jones ran a go route and made a leaping catch over cornerback Kyle Arrington to jump-start Cincinnati's winning 95-yard, 14-play touchdown drive that took nearly eight minutes.
"We caught them off guard; it was a great call," Jones said. "Andy threw it where I could catch it and secure it. That's why we have a call like that. We caught the defense off guard."
For Dalton, it was pretty simple to explain.
"They took a little while to get lined up. We just got set, they weren't ready, so we snapped it and hit the big play," Dalton said. "That's all it really came down to."
Dalton also made a huge play on No. 13 of the drive on third-and-five when the Bengals spread the field and he nearly scored on a quarterback draw, but it made the decision to go for it on fourth down easier. He did some damage with his legs. He scrambled for a first down on third-and-five in the drive the Bengals went up 6-3, and earlier he ran a rare zone read for eight yards.
"If you go back and look at the college tape, there's a lot of zone reading on there," Dalton said of his TCU days. "It just looked like they had too many guys playing the run and I was able to get out clean."
Actually, the quick snap was foreshadowed on Dalton's red-zone interception on the last play of the first quarter. After the play, Dalton's first red-zone pick of his career in 155 throws inside the 20, he and offensive coordinator Jay Gruden looked to have a heated argument after linebacker Brandon Spikes grabbed the ball intended for tight end Tyler Eifert at the 5. Gruden was trying to tell Dalton that the Pats weren't ready and had left running back Giovani Bernard uncovered.
"We weren't yelling at each other," Gruden said. "I was telling him to hurry up and snap the ball and he was telling me he was trying to, but the linemen weren't ready. That's all it was. There were a couple of times we lined up and they weren't set. It's part of the reason we came out of the third and long in a hurry.
"It wasn't heated. Last week was heated when he overthrew a couple. You'll know when it's heated."
Gruden said Dalton's interception is the kind of play that happens often. As he scrambled to the right side, Dalton tried to go back to the middle of the field.
"When you're running right and you're looking back across your body, you don't see everybody," Gruden said. "I think Spikes gave a little ground and Andy thought he could zip it in there."
SLANTS AND SCREENS
» Green-Ellis loves to have defensive tackle Domata Peko block for him on the goal line at fullback. Even if Peko picked up a costly procedure penalty two plays before. That's what happened when BJGE followed Peko for the only touchdown of the game from the one-yard line with 9:21 left in the game.
Peko first came out on third-and-one from the 1, but he moved before everybody else did. After Dalton scrambled to the 1, Peko came back and this time he didn't move.
"They have a thing where they always stem their line on the goal line. And when he saw them move, he just took off," BJGE said. "That was just him being anxious on trying to get it. The good Lord gave us a second shot at it."
Peko felt much the same thing.
"God is faithful," Peko said. "That was my bad. I own up to that. I was just anxious to go hit somebody. We kind of delayed the snap a little bit and I went too early.
"I was praying (for another chance). I don't like to mess up. I take pride in my work, so on the next play I was going downhill lead blocking for big BenJarvus and getting the touchdown to seal the deal."
» Rookie end Margus Hunt made his NFL debut with Michael Johnson shelved with a concussion and he came right into the end rotation with 40 of the 63 snaps, mostly on the right side. Hunt and Wallace Gilberry, playing where Johnson and Robert Geathers started the season, contributed mightily to the pressure of Brady. Hunt showed a good bullrush and got a piece of Brady on one of those third-down incompletions working against 6-8 Nate Solder.
"Both tackles are 6-8, big guys," said the 6-8 Hunt. "The first couple of times I got them setting back a little bit more and I was able to bull rush them little bit, Then they started to sit down more and I had to start working on different moves. It was fun. Good times."
» Less than 24 hours after his game-saving play, Adam Jones goes to court Monday on an assualt charge stemming from a summer incident in a downtown Cincinnati bar.