FIRST QUARTER – Bengals 3, Falcons 3
WHAT WENT RIGHT: The Bengals drove into the Falcons red zone on both of their possessions in the quarter. The first drive covered 69 yards in 13 plays and led to Mike Nugent's 31-yard field goal.
The second drive was sparked by a 50-yard completion from wide receiver Mohamed Sanu to wide receiver Brandon Tate. Sanu made a perfect throw deep down the right sideline and Tate did a nice job to keep his feet inbounds.
The Bengals had 118 yards in the quarter (78 passing and 40 rushing) and held the Falcons to just 53, including 18 yards passing.
WHAT WENT WRONG: A.J. Green suffered a toe injury on the opening series that knocked him out of the game.
The Bengals also continued to struggle in the red zone. After going 0 for 2 in last week's win at Baltimore they had to settle for Nugent's 31-yard field goal, then drove into the red zone on their second and final drive of the quarter, which eventually ended with a missed field goal attempt on the second play of the second quarter.
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KEY STAT: Sanu's passing line: 1 for 1 for 50 yards and a rating of 118.8.
TURNING POINT MOMENT: Green's injury. With him going out it means the Bengals were without two receivers in him and Marvin Jones who combined to have 149 receptions for 2,138 yards and 21 touchdowns last season.
DID YOU NOTICE?: Just how far and how well Sanu threw the pass to Tate. He was a good eight yards or so behind the line of scrimmage and threw a rope to Tate that was right on the money.
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QUOTE: Sanu on his pass to Tate: "I just threw it up where he could go get it and he made a play on the ball. You just have to have that confidence in yourself, that when your number's called to make that throw."
SECOND QUARTER – Bengals 10, Falcons 3
WHAT WENT RIGHT: Just about everything other than finishing drives with points.
The Bengals outgained the Falcons in the quarter, 175-45, and they forced the Falcons to punt all three times they had the football in the quarter.
Running back Giovani Bernard accounted for 90 yards in the quarter (70 receiving and 26 rushing, including his four-yard TD run).
WHAT WENT WRONG: The Bengals couldn't finish drives with points. Nugent missed all three field goals he attempted in the quarter, from 38, 49 and 55 yards out.
They also didn't manage the clock very well on their final drive before the half as a running play by Bernard took the clock from 32 seconds down to 10 before their next snap. They barely got a timeout with one second left in the half following an Andy Dalton to Jermaine Gresham pass completion to allow Nugent to attempt the 55-yard field goal.
KEY STAT: Bernard and Hill accounted for all 91 yards on the Bengals touchdown drive. Bernard rushed seven times for 23 yards and had one reception for 46 yards, while Hill rushed twice for 22 yards.
TURNING POINT MOMENT: With pressure coming all around him Dalton dumped off a safety valve pass at about the line of scrimmage to Bernard, who cut to his right and raced 46 yards to the Falcons 30. The Bengals scored a touchdown five plays later.
DID YOU NOTICE?: Bernard clearly stepped out of bounds on his 46-yard catch and run at about the Falcons 45, but the Falcons chose not to challenge it and the Bengals quickly got to the line of scrimmage and snapped the ball before Atlanta could consider doing it.
QUOTE: Bernard explaining how Dalton dumped the ball to him at the last second, which Bernard turned into a 46-yard game: "Me and Andy just have this thing when I hear my name called by him. He yelled out Gio and I just opened my eyes. I saw a blitzer coming, picked the guy up and then he kind of fell to the ground and Andy was kind of looking to get out of it." And Bernard could hear Dalton yell his name? "It's weird, I guess it's a quarterback/running back kind of relationship thing you kind of develop."
THIRD QUARTER – Bengals 24, Falcons 3
WHAT WENT RIGHT: The Bengals put their boot to the proverbial throat of the Falcons. Andy Dalton made a phenomenal throw with Jonathan Babinueax right in his face on an all-out blitz to Mohamed Sanu in one-on-one coverage and went 76 yards for a touchdown. Following a Leon Hall interception, Cincinnati went the other way for another touchdown off the turnover.
WHAT WENT WRONG: Not much. The defense held Atlanta to a three-and-out then picked off a pass on the next two drives. The biggest concern in the third quarter was linebacker Vontaze Burfict being diagnosed with a stinger and coming out for the game. Combined with his concussion suffered last week, that's a concerning combination for the league's leading tackler from 2013.
KEY STAT: The 76-yard touchdown reception by Sanu was the longest of his career by a long shot. Sanu's previous career long catch was 34 yards.
TURNING POINT MOMENT: With an opportunity to post a three-possession advantage at the 10-yard-line the Bengals handed the ball to rookie Jeremy Hill three times and he eventually pounded his first career touchdown in from the 1-yard line behind fullback Domata Peko putting Cincinnati ahead 24-3.
DID YOU NOTICE? Midway through the quarter Devon Still made a tackle and had his name announced for the first time in the game. The crowd offered a rousing standing ovation at the sound of his name. Still's story went viral this week as he was promoted to the 53-man roster while his four-year-old daughter battles cancer and saw his jersey sales explode with proceeds going to cancer research.
QUOTE: Jeremy Hill on his first career touchdown and subsequent touchdown dance: "It felt awesome, man. That's something I dreamed about my whole entire life. I definitely had fun with it. You never know when you are going to get back in there so I tried to have a little fun, do a dance, make the fans happy."
FOURTH QUARTER – Bengals 24, Falcons 10
WHAT WENT RIGHT: The Bengals didn't make any mistakes that allowed the Falcons to make the game interesting. Dalton only threw three passes against 10 rushes. The Bengals weren't particularly effective with the run, but good enough to pick up a couple first downs that let them split the time of possession in the quarter.
WHAT WENT WRONG: For the first time all game, Cincinnati's defense allowed Matt Ryan to find a rhythm and drive for the only Falcons touchdown of the game. Julio Jones racked up 57 of his 88 yards in the garbage time quarter.
KEY STAT: The Falcons weren't given short fields to attempt a comeback. Their average drive start in the final quarter was their own 9-yard line.
TURNING POINT MOMENT: Following the Falcons first touchdown of the game and a three-and-out, Kevin Huber was able to pin Atlanta at the 1-yard line and the defense didn't allow them out of the shadows of their own goal posts.
DID YOU NOTICE?: After about every other play there was some form of pushing and shoving. Andre Smith twice ended up in the middle of it, once ending up with his helmet off. Reggie Reggie Nelson and Eric Weems exchanged pushes, shoves and words. Roddy White was hit with a personal foul for extra curriculars. Atlanta's Lamar Holmes was hit with a personal foul for taking a shot at Carlos Dunlap after he didn't like his hit on Matt Ryan. Much of it began after Shawn Williams delivered a hit on an onside kick attempt that was cut off by a Bengals timeout.
QUOTE: Atlanta coach Mike Smith on his team's personal fouls, fighting: "You can't be frustrated in this game. This is a game in which you've got to cut it loose, but you've got to play within the game. We just did not do the things that we needed to do., and that's something that will be addressed. We cannot have positive plays taken back because of personal foul penalties. The game's chippy, whatever, you've got to turn your ears off."