ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. _ The Bengals scripted the first play of Sunday's dress rehearsal and when it went for a 57-yard touchdown on another head-shaking play from wide receiver John Ross, their first team offense and defense and special teams couldn't have written the script any better for the pre-season's third game.
Quarterback Andy Dalton's touchdown passes to Ross and A.J. Green and vintage third-down conversion to wide receiver Tyler Boyd to set up Randy Bullock's 46-yard field goal staked the Bengals to a 17-0 lead in ther game's first 25 minutes during a 26-13 victory over the Bills.
How about Ross? Three of his catches this year are for 57, 29 and 20.
"He made such a great move after the catch," Dalton said. "It shows you his talent and what he brings to this offense."
Ross said he didn't know about the play until it was called in the huddle, a simple go pattern down the right sideline featuring his speed. He beat cornerback Vontae Davis and Dalton lofted it on a dime. When Ross came back slightly to catch it at the 10, he cut back against the wash and left Davis and safety Jordan Poyer flat-footed as he walked in untouched.
"I saw them pursue hard to the middle of the field," Ross said. "I just wanted to make a move to see if it worked and it did."
Dalton knew he was going to him way before Ross. He said he was calling it a touchdown on the sidelines before the play and in the huddle.
It was quite a 10 minutes or so. Earlier in the day Dalton and wife Jordan appeared at a Buffalo hospital to unveil one of their donations from the hundreds of thousands of dollars Bills fans gave to their foundation when his last-minute TD pass last season put the Bills in the playoffs.
Dalton didn't know Buffalo officials would hold him back and make him the last Bengal to take the field for the start of the game. That allowed for a standing ovation of about two minutes as Dalton waved to the crowd.
"I figured it was going to be something in some way, I just didn't know when it was going to happen. And I had too many people tell me they were going to do an ovation for me so it wasn't a surprise. But I think just the way it happened," Dalton said." As I was walking out of the tunnel they said, "Hey, we're holding you back and we're going to do something." And I was like "okay." So yeah, I mean it's pretty cool."
But he admitted the ovation wouldn't have been that loud or long if it had been a regular-season game.
The Bengals looked to get out of it great health-wise from the standpoint of their starters, since none of them are expected to play in Thursday's pre-season finale against the Colts (7 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 12) at Paul Brown Stadium.
Left tackle Cordy Glenn (shoulder) left in the third series, but he had a wide smile as he walked to the bus for the trip home.
Asked if he could play in the Sept. 9 opener in Indy, Glenn said, "Absolutely, no doubt about it."
_Tight end Tyler Eifert got his first and only action of the preseason and Dalton went to him three times during the five series they were together and had one catch for 11 yards, his first catch since Sept. 14. He was defended in the end zone on a contested catch, but Eifert said he should have had it.
He said it never crossed his mind to take a hit and get back up. But he did.
"To me there's never been a doubt that I would be able to get up from a hit," Eifert said. "It's more about just getting into the live action. To get the timing back. Practice isn't the same as a game."
_The Bengals' first-team sack unit also looked to be in mid-season form. They got to rookie quarterback Josh Allen five times in the first 25 minutes. Right end Carl Lawson got 2.5, but the real eye opener was nose tackle Andrew Billings getting the first 1.5 of his career. "Big Billings," left end Carlos Dunlap said. "One of those was real sweet. I saw it all unfold." "Whoever put me in that spot," Billings said, "had me in the right place."
"Can't tell you," Dunlap said of what happened. "But I think this rotation is going to work out pretty nicely."
_Old friend AJ McCarron didn't play, but he sounds pretty confident his shoulder injury is going to be overcome here pretty quickly. He pulled up a stool as the Bengals were getting dressed and had a nice conversation going with Ross and A.J. Green. McCarron, a Bengal the four previous seasons remains one of the more well-liked guys in the room. McCarron later went out into the corridor to hold Noah, the Daltons' oldest child.