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Balanced passing attack buoys Bengals

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CINCINNATI — Last season when A.J. Green missed three games with a toe injury and the wild-card playoff game due to a concussion, the Cincinnati Bengals, who already were without receiver Marvin Jones and tight end Tyler Eifert for the season, were desperate for someone, anyone to step up on offense.

These days, Green is healthy, but focusing too much attention on him is a risky endeavor for opposing defenses.

“Like I’ve said throughout the (season), you never know who’s going to have the big week,” Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton said. “It’s nice to have the ability to spread it around to a bunch of different guys. We have a lot of playmakers on this team.”

In a 34-21 victory at Buffalo on Sunday, Dalton completed 22 passes to seven receivers for 243 yards and three touchdowns.

“The players’ goal is to put their masterpiece out there every time,” coach Marvin Lewis said. “Whether it’s three plays, 10 plays … 63 plays, it’s to put their best effort out there.”

Cincinnati’s historic 17-point, fourth-quarter comeback win the week before against Seattle was made possible when the Seahawks put cornerback Richard Sherman on Green and bracketed him with a safety.

All that accomplished was allowing Jones and Eifert to make enough big catches down the stretch to complete the rally.

Through six weeks, Dalton has passed for 1,761 yards and 14 touchdowns with just two picks, helping lead the Bengals to their first 6-0 start since 1988, when they last reached the Super Bowl.

Cincinnati’s fifth-year quarterback appears more comfortable this season managing the offense. Dalton has an offensive coordinator in Hue Jackson who is not afraid to mix things up with a variety of formations and looks and a group of receivers who seem willing to sacrifice their individual numbers for the good of the team.

“We have an ultimate goal,” Jones said. “It’s not about us (as individuals). In order to get where we want to get, we need to be selfless. We have a whole group of guys who are selfless and do their jobs.”

Jones had nine catches for 95 yards Sunday, including an acrobatic TD when he did a half-somersault before extending the ball across the goal line.

The Bengals averaged 11 yards per catch; Jones averaged 10.6.

“If you’re going to leave me one-on-one, I’ll take it,” Jones said. “Same with Mo (Sanu), Eifert, all these guys.”

Dalton attempted three passes to running backs, including a 13-yard touchdown toss to Jeremy Hill.

Eifert had four catches for 30 yards and a touchdown. Sanu had two receptions for 30 yards.

Oh, and Green? He quietly chimed in with four catches for 36 yards.

Through six weeks, Cincinnati has three receivers with 300 or more yards. Five different players have caught touchdown passes.

“It’s crazy the talent that we have,” Jones said. “It’s fun. You never know game in and game out who’s turn it’s going to be.”


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