As I noted in the AFC North Wake-up call, Andy Dalton delivered the play of the game in the Bengals' 24-19 preseason win at Atlanta, throwing a 50-yard touchdown to A.J. Green in the second quarter. While the focus will be on Dalton's arm strength -- which has been a sore spot for him this offseason -- it overshadowed another strong facet in Thursday night's game.
The Bengals, who ranked 18th on third-down efficiency last season, converted six of seven third downs with Dalton. He completed a 25-yard pass to tight end Jermaine Gresham on third-and-6 and connected with Donald Lee on a 22-yard pass on third-and-7. Then, on third-and-15, he hit Green for the long touchdown pass along the right sideline.
Here are some other thoughts on the Bengals' second preseason game:
It's safe to say Green shook off the rust in the preseason opener, when he dropped a pass in the end zone. He caught two passes for 59 yards in Atlanta, where he made the touchdown pass happen by losing cornerback Asante Samuel on a double move. That had to cause cornerbacks throughout the division to sweat a little.
The Bengals have to make sure their top two running backs, BenJarvus Green-Ellis (foot) and Bernard Scott (hand), are healthy for the regular season because both backups couldn't hold onto the ball. Brian Leonard and Cedric Peerman each fumbled while trying to make moves in the open field. Green-Ellis, who has never fumbled in his NFL career, had to be shaking his head.
Did you see the Bengals' running game in Atlanta? Neither did the Bengals. Cincinnati's offensive line struggled to open holes, as the Bengals managed 11 rushing yards on 10 first-half carries.
Left tackle Andrew Whitworth might want to skip the film review because it wasn't pretty. He continually got beat by Falcons defensive end John Abraham, who spent most of his night in the Bengals' backfield.
It was a rough game for the Bengals' trio of cornerbacks: Terence Newman, Leon Hall and Nate Clements. Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, who completed 18 of 21 passes for 174 yards in less than two quarters of work, took turns picking on all three former first-round picks. The Bengals can commiserate with the Ravens, who couldn't stop Ryan last week.
Mohamed Sanu appears to be a long shot to win the Bengals' No. 2 wide receiver job now, but the rookie third-round pick made an impression with his 12-yard touchdown catch. Marvin Jones, another rookie receiver, continues to show flashes as well.
Jeromy Miles is making a strong push for the strong safety spot. He finished with six tackles, one interception and one forced fumble. Miles, who is competing against Taylor Mays for the starting job, picked off Chris Redman in the end zone.
Unlike the preseason opener, the Bengals caught a break in terms of injuries. Gresham, who left in the first quarter with a right knee injury, "should be fine," according to coach Marvin Lewis. Backup middle linebacker Vontaze Burfict sustained a concussion but he could return for the next preseason game.