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Notes: M-Jones X-Factor; Iloka makes tough call, but 'on to KC'; NFL on Eifert; Hill still No. 1


Re-introduce yourself to the Bengals' latest X-Factor because they've got a lot of them on offense.

Since 2013, here are Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton's numbers when wide receiver Marvin Jones is paired opposite Pro Bowler A.J Green:

A 62.6 completion percentage at 7.6 yards per attempts for 41 TDs and 21 picks and a passer rating of 93.2. That's compared to career numbers of 61.8 percent, 7.1 yards per attempts and an 86.7 rating.

And in games they combine for a TD since 2013, like they did in Sunday's 28-24 victory in Baltimore, the Bengals are 8-1.

Jones is fast, tough, has great hands and defenses have to treat him almost as delicately as Green. Look at how Jones began and ended the game.

On Sunday's first drive he made a nice leaping catch on third-and-six when Dalton let him come back for it on the left sideline for a 32-yard play. And his one-handed catch on the last drive down the right sideline when he fried cornerback Kyle Arrington for 31 yards is now a part of Bengals lore.

But he also drew two penalties in the secondary when the Ravens backup defenders just couldn't keep pace with him.

THIRD DOWN:  How about the NFL's top two passers on third down being Arizona's Carson Palmer and Dalton 1-2?

And take a bow to running back Giovani Bernard.

He played nearly twice as many snaps as running back Jeremy Hill (51-26) but had only one more carry (13-12). Most of his snaps came in the second half and they had to love how he helped Dalton sort through the Ravens' myriad of blitzes.

On third-and-13 from the Bengals 36 on the first drive of the second half, Bernard picked up a linebacker as Dalton hung it up for Green's 47-yard catch. But it wasn't only on third down Bernard did the dirty work.

On Green's first-down 80-yard stunner to regain the lead with 6:37 left, Bernard again stuck his face into a backer to help give Dalton time and on Green's winning seven-yard TD with 2:10 left Bernard combined with tight end Tyler Eifert to fend off Pro Bowl blitzing inside linebacker C.J. Mosely.

FOURTH QUARTER:  And after Dalton went 8-for-11 for 181 yards and two TDs on Sunday in the fourth quarter he leads the AFC and Palmer leads the NFC in fourth quarter. A lot of karma out there. With the Bengals ranked second in offense, it's the highest they've been ranked since the end of Week 13 in 2005 when Palmer led them to a No. 1 ranking.

No one is left from that offense except a lot of the coaches, such as quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese, offensive line coach Paul Alexander, tight ends coach Jonathan Hayes, and wide receivers coach Hue Jackson is now the offensive coordinator.

PRESSURE POINTS: The press box stats had the Bengals for no sacks and just one hit on Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, but he sure had a lot of people in his face. Carlos Dunlap spent most of the day just missing Flacco and giving the right side of the Ravens line fits. He drew some holds, made some nice plays in the run game and may end up getting a sack when he forced Flacco's intentional grounding late in the fourth quarter.

They also got 10 quality snaps from second-year backup right end Will Clarke, including one early in the second quarter when Clarke backed the tight end into the pocket in Flacco's face and he carelessly unloaded it in a hurry off his back foot and cornerback Adam Jones was draped all over the fullback at the Ravens 30 for his third career pick of Flacco. It set up Marvin Jones' 16-yard TD catch.

Dunlap and Wallace Gilberry, also came up with a big pressure on third-and-three on the Ravens' last drive of the game from the Baltimore 27 and just in the nick of time. The relentless Steve Smith Sr. was ahead of safety Reggie Nelson on a cross route, but Flacco shot-putted it short as Dunlap came screaming past right tackle Rick Wagner and Gilberry knifed through the middle to get a hand up.

Gilberry played more than last week (61 percent), but backup tackle Brandon Thompson played 25 snaps or 33 percent of the time in place of the injured Pat Sims and had a terrific play where he stoned a screen pass. He also helped in the run, where they held the Ravens to 36 yards rushing. That's the second lowest in the Green-Dalton era.

SAFETY SWITCH: The Bengals switched up safety George Iloka for Shawn Williams. Iloka is usually a 100-percent play guy, but they went to Williams late in the game and he ended up getting 41 percent of the snaps. He was covering tight end Maxx Williams on Flacco's last desperate incomplete bomb of the game.

Iloka revealed Monday he made a tough decision to pull himself as he deals with a nagging ankle injury.

"I felt like I was hurting the team more than I was helping them at the time, so I took myself out. That's all I can say about that," said Iloka, one of the team's iron men the past two seasons with more than 2,000 snaps in 35 straight starts.

"We're all confident in Shawn. We have depth, so you can't be selfish in that situation," said Iloka, who got injured in the opener in Oakland. "So I pulled myself out and told (defensive coordinator) Paul (Guenther) I couldn't go any more. I don't want to pull myself out. Like I said, I wasn't helping the team. I wasn't playing like myself and I didn't want to hurt myself any further.  I've got to get healthy so I can go out there and play like I know I can. With the backups we have and how good they are, it made it a little bit easier. I would have felt bad if I came out and we lost."

You have to love Iloka's honesty and cool. Apparently Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith Sr., called Iloka a very bad name on the sidelines during his 186-yard game, along with referring to the rest of the starting secondary one by one as "trash."  

Asked about it on Monday, he had no comment.

"We're 3-0. We're undefeated. We're on to KC," Iloka said.

Asked if he was channeling Patriots head coach Bill Belichick's "On to Cincinnati," of last season, Iloka went for it.

"We're on to KC. Shout out to Belichick, man," he said. "Thanks for telling me that. All week that's all I'm going to say, "On to KC."

That was, of course, when the Bengals were off to a 3-0 start before getting pummeled by those Patriots. Iloka thinks he knows why.

"I just think last year we were probably feeling ourselves after that fast start," Iloka said. "We've got to stay even keel.  . . . . I think that's kind of what hurt us last year. We started feeling ourselves . . . and getting into the power rankings, things like that. It's a marathon, not a sprint. Right now we're in the lead obviously, but we just have to stay on the path and things will work out."

Iloka can feel a different vibe after they came back twice in a span of 4:27 to regain the lead late in Sunday's game.

"In the past when bad things would happen, we would bicker amongst one another and kind of put our heads down," Iloka said. "But I think yesterday even though a lot of things didn't go our way throughout the game, we still battled back."

REPLAY OF REPLAY: The NFL explained the Tyler Eifert play Monday and even the web site had trouble understanding why it was taken off the board with 1:51 left in the first half on Sunday.

Here's how PFT quoted NFL director of officiating Dean Blandino:

"Very similar to the Dez (Bryant) play, he's not a runner before he went to the ground, and the requirement is he has to hold onto the ball. So regardless of any reach, he's got to hold onto the ball when he lands, and there's an element of time the receiver has to complete in order to complete a catch. He didn't complete that element of time and, very similar to the Dez play, it was ruled incomplete."

As PFT's Michael David Smith wondered, "Some of us have a hard time understanding that ruling, as Eifert had the ball long enough to reach it over the goal line, which would seem to be something you couldn't do with a football that you hadn't caught. But Blandino said that Eifert reaching the ball forward doesn't constitute a "football move." '

Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson might have been wondering, too, but he's been listening to Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis, a member of the NFL competition committee, backing the officials' call. So Jackson says, in the end, Eifert has to hold on to the ball.

"I thought we scored. I want to say we scored. I am still going to sleep at night thinking it was a touchdown," Jackson said. "I know the rule says otherwise and it's been explained to us by the head coach. You have to hold the ball through the catch. I thought the ball broke the plane. It's a judgment call. Tyler, hold on to the ball let's make sure it's not even a question. It's tough.  . . . You score that touchdown it's probably a totally different game. You don't so all the sudden you give them life and they end up scoring.  . . . But those are the rules so we have to deal with them. But we will learn from that one. "

But if he didn't hold on, isn't that a fumble and not an incomplete pass?

Oh, never mind.

HILL STILL STARTER: Offensive coordinator Hue Jackson said Monday Hill is still his starter.

Bottom line? Fantasy owners for both guys are at risk because their workload depends on the game situation as much as the opponent.

"I have the utmost confidence in Jeremy and Jeremy is our starting tailback and that's not going to change," Jackson said. "But he'll get himself going here soon. I'm not concerned about Jeremy. We're 3-0. I'll let you guys be concerned about Jeremy. And I don't think Jeremy's concerned about it. He's not. He's concerned about winning."

 They both have 41 carries this season and Bernard is rolling at 5.7 yards per while Hill is at 3.0 after last season's 1,000-yard rookie year he averaged 5.1 After he had just 1.8 yards per carry, vs. the Ravens, Jackson pointed to the four carries Hill had in his debut last year in Baltimore.

"He didn't play a lot in that game, and there was a reason," Jackson said. "This is a type of defense you play, sometimes you play to that feeling of things. Again, nothing about Jeremy."

The Ravens always make it tough in the running game and on Sunday they filled the box and blitzed as usual, holding Bernard to 3.8 yards himself. It will be recalled that after Hill had 25 yards on 10 carries in the second game against Baltimore last season in the seventh game, he went off and became the NFL's leading rusher in the last nine games.

Head coach Marvin Lewis suggested Sunday that with the Bengals trailing twice in the last seven minutes, they needed to throw and use a lot of one-back sets with Bernard's ability to catch out of the backfield.

"It was just the personnel Hue wanted at that time," Lewis said. "We were behind, so in that situation It was going to be Gio."

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