OAKLAND, Calif. - "Just another game."
Not exactly, "Just Win, Baby," the Raiders fabled motto. But that's what former Raiders defensive tackle Pat Sims said Sunday after he helped come up with one of the plays of the day in the 33-13 Opening Day victory when the Bengals defense stopped the Raiders on fourth-and-one at the Oakland 44 with 5:21 left in the first half.
It was the crusher because it came the snap after cornerback Adam Jones knocked Raiders quarterback Derek Carr out of the game when he stopped his third-down scramble a yard shy of the first down by knocking the ball out of his throwing hand and sending him to the locker room.
With Sims and defensive tackle Domata Peko submerging the line surge and linebackers Rey Maualuga and A.J. Hawk coming over the top, the Bengals stoned running back Latavius Murray for no gain. When Bengals running back Jeremy Hill scored his second touchdown six plays later to make it 17-0 three minutes later, it was done.
"Have to stop them on fourth-and-one," said Sims, who despite playing for the Raiders the previous two seasons had no chip on the shoulder. "It's a game. Just another game."
But what a game for the defense. They held Carr to just 61 yards passing before simply burying backup Matt McGloin on two sacks and giving him just 142 yards on 31 pass attempts.
The Bengals are trying to beef up their rotation on the line and Sims took 26 percent of the snaps Sunday while Peko added 44 percent and the three-down Atkins led all the line with 83 percent. The Bengals opted not to start right end Michael Johnson as he came off the Aug. 2 MCL sprain, but he did log 58 percent while his replacement, Wallace Gilberry, also a nickel tackle, played 70 percent. Will Clarke, the second-year end, took 11 snaps.
The fourth-and-one could have counted as a turnover, but the Bengals had two real ones in the third quarter, safety Reggie Nelson's interception and Atkins' sack and forced fumble of McGloin that was recovered by Michael Johnson.
Atkins did break through a double team just before McGloin threw the pick, but McGloin simply overthrew tight end Mychal Rivera and, as Nelson said, "I was in the right place at the right time."
Since coming over in a trade on the eve of the 2010 season, Nelson has done that a lot. It was his 16th pick as a Bengal, putting him in a tie with legendary linebacker Reggie Williams and Pro Bowl cornerback Deltha O'Neal on the club's all-time list at No. 8 and one behind safety Tommy Casanova.
"We did a good job stopping the run," said Nelson of a 3.9 yard effort. "We want to make teams one-dimensional."
Backup safety Shawn Williams came off the bench in the second quarter after starter George Iloka hurt his foot on a play the Raiders were called for roughing. The third-year Williams played his most ever from scrimmage with 47 snaps and helped the Raiders not complete a pass longer than 14 yards in the second half. Iloka, who has started 33 straight games, looks like he'll start Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium against the Chargers. He was running on the sidelines in the second half.
A.J.'s DAY: Bengals Pro Bowl wide receiver A.J. Green showed some resiliency Sunday and had a big hand in that three-minute span that turned the game around late in the second quarter. After he dropped what would have been a 14-yard touchdown pass earlier in the quarter, he made a big 30-yard catch on third-and-seven following the fourth-and-one stop to set up Hill's touchdown.
With the Raiders playing a single safety high, there were seams open all day whenever the Bengals spread the field. With Green working out of the slot, he got inside cornerback D.J. Hayden and Hayden passed him to safety Nate Allen in a zone. But Green was off to the races on a slant with about 15 yards after catch.
"That stuff was killing me. I just relaxed on it. I don't know why I do that," Green said of the drop.
But he did regroup to finish with five catches for 63 yards and applauded the emergence of tight end Tyler Eifert and what it means for the offense and him.
"We're dynamic," Green said. "It's especially good in the red zone. He's so big and athletic. It's just unbelievable what he can do. You can't really double a tight end, that's really going to help us."
CALM: The Bengals reacted as calmly after the victory as they did when they bolted to a 24-0 half-time lead to extinguish the Opening Day hype that engulfed O.co Coliseum.
In the hostile atmosphere the Bengals didn't turn it over while racking up nearly 400 yards and generating what amounted to three turnovers in holding Oakland to 25 percent on third down it what was the most all-around Opening Day victory of the Marvin Lewis era.
Or was it?
"I wouldn't say all-around,' Nelson said. "We could have finished better. It's only week one. We have a lot to work on. It's hard to say all-around."
The Bengals did get outscored, 13-9, in the second half and overcame cornerback Adam Jones' unnecessary roughness call in the first half, as well as some scuffles that happened post whistle. The Bengals certainly didn't come out flat.
"Marvin told us they were going to keep yelling in the first half and we had to quiet them," Jones said of the crowd.
But Lewis is also looking for more moderation.
"Obviously, the crowd was jacked up. It was a big deal today," Lewis said. "It was opening day for them, and the history and the heritage here. It's always a tough place to play. It was an exciting big crowd. Excitement on the sidelines all day. I thought our guys handled it pretty well.
"We have got to be better about (chippiness). We know who's going to be that way. It's opening day. We have to play with better poise throughout the football game."
"We don't want to come out and be fighting like that," he said. "Fighting isn't a part of football."