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Healthy Bengals WR Green has career day

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CINCINNATI — Saying he felt as good as he has since training camp, Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green had the biggest game of his career Sunday.

Green, who missed three games earlier this year and most of a fourth with a toe injury, caught 11 passes for a career-high 224 yards, including an 81-yard touchdown that was 1 yard shy of the longest of his career. But he caught only one pass for 21 yards in a disastrous fourth quarter that saw the Bengals get outscored 25-0 by the Pittsburgh Steelers on the way to a 42-21 loss.

“Stats really don’t matter to me,” Green said. “It was a big game, and I was trying to be aggressive, emotional and just trying to make plays whenever my number was called.”

Quarterback Andy Dalton targeted Green 15 times and connected with him for the team’s three longest gains. Green beat Ike Taylor for receptions of 56 and 21 yards in addition to his 81-yarder that was the second longest of his career next to the 82-yarder he had in a 27-24 overtime win at Detroit last year.

“For the past couple of years, (Taylor) was killing me,” Green said. “They had my number. I was just trying to do some different things.”

Green’s 223 yards were the second most in franchise history behind Chad Johnson’s 260 in a 49-41 loss at San Diego on Nov. 12, 2006.

“When you’ve got a guy like A.J., you want to get him the ball,” Dalton said. “We had a lot of really good looks today, and we hit big plays. He’s such a big play waiting to happen, and it showed today.”

It was the 20th 100-yard game of Green’s career, moving him into second place in team history with Isaac Curtis. Johnson leads the way with 31.

–With the Steelers driving for a possible tying touchdown at the end of the first half, Bengals cornerbacks Adam Jones (chest) and Terence Newman (shoulder) were on the sideline with injuries.

It obviously wasn’t an ideal situation, but it was an opportunity for the team to get a look at their first-round picks in two of the last three seasons — Dre Kirkpatrick (2012) and Darqueze Dennard (2013).

“They did good,” defensive coordinator Paul Guenther said. “We probably need to get them more time in there. They did a good job. They’ve been practicing good and they understand the plan, and their techniques are good.”

Newman and Jones were both back on the field to start the second half, but Newman left again with an ankle injury.

Kirkpatrick played 15 snaps, and Dennard played seven. Their opportunities have been rare, but Guenther said that has more to do with the starters in front of them than the youngsters’ progression as professionals.

“Our corners have been pretty damn good, for the most part, all year,” Guenther said. “So I don’t have a complaint on them. They didn’t play real good yesterday. None of them played really good yesterday. Was it an off day? Maybe. But I don’t think they’ve done anything in their play to merit getting pulled out of there. So it’s not so much the young guys’ fault. It’s the guys in front of them are playing pretty good.”


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