Bengals try to keep on rolling

Published 10:40 pm Saturday, September 20, 2014

CINCINNATI (AP) — Walking off the field after another win, offensive tackles Andrew Whitworth and Andre Smith started lobbing their quarterback for a little love.

Given how few times Andy Dalton has hit the ground this season, he had to listen.

“Andre and I were just kidding him that we need him to throw us a little bone or something,” Whitworth said. “I was just having fun with him. He means a lot to us. We go out every week with the goal of not letting anyone touch him.”

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The Bengals (2-0) are off to their best start since 2006 in large part because Dalton has been able to stay on his feet and avoid the game-turning mistake. The Bengals are the only team in the NFL without a turnover or a sack. Dalton has gone two games without an interception or a sack for the first time in his career.

It’s the first time in Cincinnati’s 47-season history it hasn’t turned over the ball or given up a sack in the first two games.

“We’re going for three this week,” Dalton said. “Hopefully we can get that record.”

Tennessee (1-1) knows the need to end that trend. The Titans are tied for second in the NFL with eight sacks.

They’re playing one of seven unbeaten teams left in the NFL in a stadium where the Bengals have won their last 10 regular-season games.

In order to have a chance, they’ve got to get to Dalton.

“For us, it’s more so like a playoff game,” defensive lineman Jurrell Casey said. “They’re a playoff-contending team, and we want to be a playoff-contending team. So we’ve got to go out there and show we’re able to compete with those guys.

“Like I said, they’re a great team and they have everything on that side of the ball. I feel like we have the guys on our side of the ball to go out and stop it.”

The Bengals beat the Falcons 24-10 last week despite losing Pro Bowl receiver A.J. Green to an injured right toe, tight end Alex Smith to an injured biceps, Pro Bowl linebacker Vontaze Burfict to another concussion, and guard Kevin Zeitler to an injured right calf.

They’ve showed their depth by continuing to win. A victory Sunday would leave them 3-0 for the first time since 2006 with a chance to heal during their bye week.

“I’m pleased,” coach Marvin Lewis said. “We’re as good as we can be. But again, we can’t take a step back. We can’t take a breath or relax.”

Some things to watch on Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium:

PERFECT DALTON: Dalton and Houston’s Ryan Fitzpatrick are the only quarterbacks who haven’t been sacked or thrown an interception. The Bengals are the only team without a turnover or sack allowed. Dalton has been quicker to get rid of the ball instead of taking a sack, and he hasn’t forced passes as much as in the past.

“Taking care of the ball and protecting the quarterback are maybe the two things we preach above everything else,” Lewis said.

BEAT-UP BENGALS: Cincinnati wants to get through this game without more injuries, of course, then take the bye week to regroup and heal. Receiver Marvin Jones is expected back soon from a broken foot. Tight end Tyler Eifert will miss half the season with an injured elbow. It’s unclear how long Zeitler and Burfict will be limited. And Green is hoping to get past the injured big toe on his right foot that forced him out of the game during the opening series last Sunday.

GIO ON THE RUN: The Titans have given up the fewest yards passing in the NFL, but that’s partly because teams can run on them. The Cowboys ran for 220 yards during a 26-10 win in Tennessee, holding the ball for more than 41 minutes. With their passing game limited by injuries against the Falcons, the Bengals let Giovani Bernard and rookie Jeremy Hill play a big role. They combined for 164 yards on the ground and seven catches for 101 yards.

SACK TIME: The Titans’ eight sacks are their most through two games since the start of the 2010 season. Casey, who had 10 1/2 sacks last season, already has two. Defensive coordinator Ray Horton knows the Bengals’ weak spots from his time as the Browns’ defensive coordinator.

ESTONIA DAY: Titans left tackle Michael Roos is believed to be the first Estonian to play in the NFL, drafted by the Titans in the second round in 2005. The Bengals drafted Estonian defensive end Margus Hunt in the second round in 2013. They’ve gotten to know each other. Roos said Estonians are trying to learn more about the game of football.


AP Pro Football Writer Teresa Walker in Nashville, Tenn., contributed to this report.


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