The Cincinnati Bengals wrapped a perfect October with a near-perfect performance Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium.
Cincinnati wide receiver Marvin Jones caught a franchise-record four touchdown passes and set career highs in catches (eight) and yards (122) to highlight an explosive day by both the offense and defense as the Bengals bludgeoned the New York Jets 49-9 before a crowd of 62,576.
“It was the most complete game this season,” Cincinnati head coach Marvin Lewis said after watching his team win its fourth game in a row – all in October – to improve to 6-2 on a day when no one else in the AFC North Division won.
After squandering double-digit leads in the second half before winning on the final play of the game each of the last two weeks, the Bengals gave their fans’ nerves the day off against the Jets with throttle-thick performance that produced an early burial.
“I think we’ve had enough people that have reached out to us and begged for us to win one the right way,” left tackle Andrew Whitworth said. “Hopefully this one calmed them down.”
Quarterback Andy Dalton threw four of his career-high five touchdown passes in the first half, with three of them going to Jones and the other to tight end Jermaine Gresham.
“This is where I want to be,” said Dalton, who finished 19 of 30 for 325 yards with the five TDs and one interception in a little more than three quarters. “This is how I want to be playing. It’s tough to do.”
It was the third consecutive 300-yard game for Dalton, who has 11 touchdown passes and two interceptions in his last three games.
“I’m not sure a guy could play much better than he’s played the last three weeks,” Whitworth said. “I’ve said all along we believe in him and we were going to continue to find ways to put him in position to win. He continues to rise to the occasion.”
As does Jones, who caught TD passes of 9, 6, 14 and 6 yards to double his career total in a span of 44 minutes.
“Other than Pop Warner, I’ve never scored more than two in a game, so it was a great day,” said Jones, who joined Larry Kinnebrew and Corey Dillon as the only Bengals players to score four touchdowns in game.
“I’m keeping these,” Jones said of his four touchdown balls. “I’ll frame ’em or whatever. I usually dish them out. Not this game.”
The first two came on back-shoulder throws and the fourth was a screen where he broke multiple tackles, but the third may have been the most impressive of all. With 16 seconds left in second quarter, Jones made a diving catch and barely tapped his second foot down to send the Bengals into halftime with a 28-6 lead.
And they wasted little time tacking on after the break when safety Chris Crocker picked off Jets rookie quarterback Geno Smith on the first play of the third quarter, returning it 40 yards for a touchdown.
Cornerback Adam Jones capped the scoring with a 60-yard interception return for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter.
“That was ugly, to say the least,” Jets coach Rex Ryan said. “We’re fortunate that it only counts for one loss. When you get your butt kicked like that, we’re fortunate that that is all it is.”
With Cleveland and Pittsburgh both losing and Baltimore sitting on a bye, the Bengals extended their lead in the AFC North to 2 1/2 games heading into Thursday night’s game at Miami (3-4).
“We have to take care of our bodies and make sure we’re ready to go Thursday night,” Adam Jones said.
“I’m quite sure the coaches will have us prepared mentally and focused.”
8:25 p.m. at Miami, NFL Network