The Bengals got a whiff of some things the Titans said last week about Cincinnati not yet getting hit in the mouth this season with the suggestion the Titans planned to change that Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium. Head coach Marvin Lewis made sure his team saw tight end Delanie Walker's words before the 33-7 victory.
After it was over, and the Bengals had stoned the Titans on their last 10 third downs and pushed for two second-half touchdown drives that consumed 11:25, the Bengals still weren't pleased.
"We took that personally," said defensive tackle Domata Peko. "Especially when someone comes into your house and talks trash. We don't like that around here. We kind of made it a little personal to us and with a little chip on our shoulder."
All the chips are now on the table. With Seattle's overtime victory over Denver, the 3-0 Bengals are the AFC's lone unbeaten team.
NO TKO: Before his 18-yard touchdown pass reached quarterback Andy Dalton, Bengals wide receiver Mohamed Sanu suddenly saw the cornerback appear and said simply to himself "No. No. No."
There was cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson sitting right there in the left flat, right there with Dalton. That's because Tennessee knew it was coming and had practiced against the throw-back pass last week.
"It could have been a pick six or he could have knocked Andy out," Sanu said. "That's what I was thinking. He was going to knock Andy out. Andy just jumped in front of him, caught it and ran it in."
So "No," went to "Oh."
"Yeah, he should have thrown it," Dalton said. "Let your receiver go make a play."
Dalton said he tells his receivers every day he's got the best hands on the team, but that was his first TD catch on any level.
And running back Giovani Bernard was thinking the same thing.
"I was thinking, 'Start warming up Jason,' " Bernard said of backup quarterback Jason Campbell. "I thought it was going to be splattered. But Andy is an athletic guy. We know Andy is an athletic guy. He can go up and make a catch like that."
The next guy up after Campbell is, well, Sanu, and why not? The former all-New Jersey quarterback has thrown four NFL passes, completed them all for 166 yards and has two TDs. Not only that, Lewis says he's the backup kicker and could play some NFL safety.
Asked if there's a position he didn't want to play, Sanu was pretty quick with "offensive or defensive line."
E-MAN STEPS IN: With Pro Bowl WILL backer Vontaze Burfict (concussion) missing the first game of his career, SAM backer Emmanuel Lamur, in just his third NFL start, stepped into the vacuum to run the huddle and relay defensive coordinator Paul Guenther's signals.
"He did a great job. He brought a lot of energy to it and that's what Vontaze brings, too," said defensive lineman Robert Geathers. "It shows you how well everyone knows the defense."
Lamur wore the helmet with the mike in it so he could communicate with Guenther while on the field. When he went out after gettng hit in the head, Vincent Rey, who replaced Burfict at WILL, took the helmet.
ALL IN? With the Bengals looking at a bye week, head coach Marvin Lewis says they'll be as healthy as they've been all season when they play in New England on Sunday Night Football Oct. 5. He expects to have back Burfict as well as wide receiver Marvin Jones (foot), running back Rex Burkhead (knee) and linebacker Sean Porter (hamstring). He also said there were no serious injuries Sunday.
SLANTS AND SCREENS: A.J. Green now has 17 career 100-yard games, one away from tying Cris Collinsworth's 18 for fourth place on the Bengals all-time list.
"It feels good,' said Green of his right big toe that held him to five snaps last week. "Fresh legs. No question about it. Maybe I'll miss practice again next week."
He was just kidding. But he wasn't fooling around with the Titans corners. He schooled their best one, Jason McCourty, early, first taking him inside on slants and then running past him on go routes. It was a go route down the right sideline that shook him loose for his longest of the day, a 29-yard gain that came a snap before Dalton's TD catch.
He did leave the game a couple of times, but it was nothing related to the toe and he'll be ready for New England. ..
When Robert Geathers caught the ball at the Titans 17 after safety George Iloka blasted it out of Walker's hands, it was his third career pick and first since the 2007 opener, when he had a stat in every defensive category...
Meanwhile, rookie Darqueze Dennard had his first NFL sack on his second snap from scrimmage...
As good as the defense played, special teams may have been even better. Safety Shawn Williams forced a hold in the end zone on a Titans punt for a safety in the second quarter and punter Kevin Huber put two more inside the 5 after putting two in there last week. As much as offensive coordinator Hue Jackson mixed it up with the Dalton play, special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons added some spice, too. The Bengals changed up their look at the last minute to throw off the Tennessee protection.
Lewis told his offense he was going to play a field position game and his special teams obliged. Tennessee had the ball nearly three minutes longer and 26 more yards, but it was a blowout because the Bengals hammered them in the kicking game and with two turnovers.