Bengals, Redskins meet in evenly matched game

Published 11:24 pm Saturday, October 29, 2016

CINCINNATI (AP) — Paul Guenther took down the photos from above his desk and pointed out Jay Gruden standing in their group with various racehorses.
The two of them hit it off during their time together in Cincinnati, spending a lot of time together at the track and other places. They and their families remain close.
“We talk every other day, every third day,” said Guenther, the Bengals defensive coordinator. “We’re up there in our sports pictures together, all of them.”
No friendly chats this week, though. Guenther and Gruden have to scheme against each other — trying to take advantage of their familiarity — as the Bengals (3-4) get ready to host Gruden’s Redskins (4-3) in London on Sunday.
It’s the second week in a row that the Bengals are facing a former offensive coordinator. Hue Jackson pulled a few tricks with his depleted Cleveland Browns last Sunday, keeping the game close until he lost yet another quarterback. The Bengals pulled away 31-17.
Gruden preceded Jackson as the Bengals’ offensive coordinator and installed the system they still use. He and Guenther spent a lot of time picking each other’s brains about how they can make things more difficult for opposing teams. And yeah, there was some friendly competition and they drew their competing Xs and Os on paper.
“There’s plenty of trash-talking over a couple of sodas, that’s for sure,” said Gruden, in his third season as the Redskins’ head coach. “When we were together, we actually helped each other out a lot. We talked about (pass) protections and blitzes and all that stuff. I told him our answer, and he helped me with their answer.
“Whoever had the pen last, I promise you, was the victor.”
Now they get to draw it up for real.
Both teams bring prolific passing offenses into their match at Wembley Stadium, the first time either franchise has played a regular-season game in London. It well could come down to who has the better answers on defense.
“I think they’ll be a little more extravagant with what they do against us most likely,” Gruden said, trying to think along with Guenther. “It’s going to be a great challenge.”
Some things to watch on Sunday:
A.J.’s JUGGLING: Bengals receiver A.J. Green made a one-handed catch in the end zone for a 48-yard touchdown against Cleveland. He had another one-handed, 48-yard catch later in the game. He takes his juggling skills, which he honed in grade school, to another country, intending to entertain with a game as good as the previous one.
“Yeah, it was a little bit of everything,” said Green, who leads the NFL with 50 catches.
DALTON’S SURGE: Gruden developed Andy Dalton starting with his rookie season in 2011. Dalton had his best year in 2015 before breaking his passing thumb, and he’s following with another impressive season. He hasn’t thrown an interception in the past three games. He’s posted a passer rating above 100 for each of the past four games.
BENGALS RUN DEFENSE: Browns rookie quarterback Kevin Hogan ran for 104 yards against Cincinnati last Sunday, and Cleveland piled up 180 yards rushing overall. Cincinnati has allowed more than 150 yards rushing three times this season — Dallas also ran for 180 — and ranks 24th in run defense, presenting an inviting target for Gruden’s ground game.
“They run a little bit of that (quarterback) read option, and I’m pretty sure we’re going to see some read option after how we defended it last week,” defensive tackle Domata Peko said.
COUSINS GETS HIS ZZZZs: To adjust his body clock to London time, Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins went to bed as early as 7:15 p.m. during the week and woke up at about 5:15 a.m. His offseason visits to England sparked the idea.
“I had a hard time adjusting,” Cousins said. “I was only there for about three days, and it was tough. I was sleeping in until noon or 1 o’clock just because of how tired I was, so I want to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
FUMBLITIS: Running back Matt Jones lost a fumble near the goal line in the Redskins’ 20-17 loss at Detroit, raising questions about whether undrafted rookie Robert Kelley might see a bigger role. If Jones can’t play because of a knee injury, Kelley is Washington’s featured back and Chris Thompson remains in his third-down role.
“I’m not worried about it,” Cousins said, calling Jones tough-minded. “Fumbles happen. If you play this game long enough, the ball’s going to get turned over. Guys make mistakes, it’s OK. And this isn’t the first time he or anybody on this team has faced adversity, so we all just keep working and he’ll be no different.”

Email newsletter signup