Ben­gals take con­vinc­ing 27-10 win over New Or­leans Saints

The Standard Journal - - NFL FOOTBALL -

NEW OR­LEANS ( AP) — Andy Dal­ton couldn’t wait to for­get one of the worst out­ings of his ca­reer a lit­tle over a week ago.

He’ll want to re­mem­ber the way he played in the Su­per­dome.

“That’s the way this league is; it’s so week-to-week,” Dal­ton said. “You lose and every­body wants to run you out. You win, every­body is go­ing to like you. I’m not too wor­ried about that.”

Dal­ton didn’t look wor­ried about tak­ing on the Saints in the Su­per­dome, ei­ther, even though New Or­leans had lost only once at home since 2012. He con­nected on 73 per­cent of his throws for three touch­downs, and Cincin­nati (6-3-1) moved back into first place in the AFC North with a 2710 vic­tory on Sun­day.

Saints fans tried to gen­er­ate chaos-in­duc­ing noise when the Ben­gals’ of­fense was on the field, but Dal­ton ex­uded calm and poise. He threw con­fi­dently from the pocket for much of the game, but also scram­bled away from pres­sure as needed and com­pleted passes on the run.

His per­for­mance rep­re­sented an about-face from his 10 com­ple­tions for 86 yards and a QB rat­ing of 2.0 dur­ing a 24-3 loss to Cleve­land in Week 10. Against New Or­leans (46), Dal­ton was 16 of 22 for 220 yards, did not throw an in­ter­cep­tion and fin­ished with a passer rat­ing of 143.9. Two of his touch­downs went to tight end Jer­maine Gre­sham. The third was a pin-point 24-yarder along the left side­line to A.J. Green, who had six catches for 127 yards.

“We know what we have in Andy Dal­ton,” Ben­gals coach Marvin Lewis said. “We’ve no­ticed that he gen­er­ally is able to put things be­hind him and move for­ward. He did a good job with that.”

De­spite the loss, the Saints were still tied for first place in the NFC South with At­lanta (4-6), which de­feated Carolina (3-6-1).

Still, coach Sean Pay­ton didn’t try to con­ceal his con­cern over the Saints’ ap­par­ent re­gres­sion dur­ing a two-game skid.

“We ob­vi­ously have to look closely at ev­ery lit­tle thing,” Pay­ton said. “In a game like to­day, you come away from it dis­ap­pointed and frus­trated.”

Here are some things to know about the Ben­gals’ con­vinc­ing vic­tory in New Or­leans:

RUNN ING DOWN­HILL: Jeremy Hill can carry Cincin­nati’s run­ning game while Gio­vani Bernard re­cov­ers from a hip in­jury. Hill car­ried 27 times for 152 yards, mark­ing the sec­ond time in his rookie sea­son that he has eclipsed the 150-yard mark in a game. Mak­ing it sweeter for Hill was per­form­ing like that in the state where he grew up and starred at LSU. “It was big for me, com­ing back home,” said Hill, who’d at­tended nu­mer­ous NFL and col­lege games in the Su­per­dome grow­ing up, but never played there. “I had a lot of fam­ily mem­bers and friends here.”

DOME DOL­DRUMS: A few weeks ago, the Saints seemed un­beat­able in the Su­per­dome. Not any­more. The Saints have lost two straight at home, start­ing with a 27-23 over­time loss to San Francisco in Week 10. New Or­leans 17-point mar­gin of loss was its big­gest in the dome since a 31-14 loss to Ten­nessee in 2007. The last time the Saints scored as few as 10 points in the Su­per­dome was a 16-10 loss to Wash­ing­ton in 2006.

DIG­GING I N: Cincin­nati’s de­fense demon­strated depth in the ab­sence of start­ing line­backer Von­taze Bur­fict and start­ing cor­ner­back Ter­ence New­man. Cincin­nati held Drew Brees to 255 yards pass­ing, his sec­ond-low­est to­tal this sea­son while end­ing run­ning back Mark In­gram’s streak of 100-yard rush­ing games at three. “We didn’t give up any deep balls,” Ben­gals cor­ner­back Adam Jones said. “That’s the key to our de­fense.”

CLOS­ING RANKS: After New Or­leans al­lowed Cincin­nati to con­vert nine of 13 third downs, Saints cor­ner­back Keenan Lewis, who played spar­ingly while re­cov­er­ing from a knee bruise, pledged to take more of a lead­er­ship role. “Be­ing one of the older guys in the sec­ondary, it’s time for me to step up and bring my lead­er­ship and show them the things that I was taught from some great veteran guys,” Lewis said. “My play on the field can say one thing, but it’s time for me to show them how to re­ally get the job done. If they don’t buy in, then they gotta go.”

IN­JURIES: The Saints are now very thin at safety. Rafael Bush, a starter since Jairus Byrd went on in­jured re­serve ear­lier this sea­son, said he frac­tured his tibia in the fourth quar­ter against Cincin­nati. Mean­while, Ben­gals re­serve de­fen­sive end Mar­gus Hunt left the game with an an­kle in­jury in the first half.

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