A.J. Green challenged himself to get 'back into rhythm'

NEW ORLEANS -- With an extra three days between games, A.J. Green had time last week to take a good, hard look at himself.

He wasn't pleased with what he saw.

Forget Andy Dalton's 2.0 passer rating and the rest of his struggles last week against the Cleveland Browns. Green didn't fare much better in the 24-3 loss. He caught three passes for just 23 yards. For a receiver who has made the Pro Bowl each of his first three seasons in the league, numbers like those were concerning.

"I didn't play good," Green said Sunday about last week's loss. "You can't put all the blame on the quarterback. We're the receivers. We've got to run better routes. I challenged myself this week to be able to come out there and help my team win."

Once the fourth quarter arrived, he did just that.

With a 24-yard touchdown reception early in the fourth quarter, Green helped answer a New Orleans Saints touchdown drive that had cut the Cincinnati Bengals' lead in half on the previous possession. Once Green's feet came down in bounds with the ball -- just barely -- in the end zone, the game was all but officially over. While Green celebrated his fourth touchdown reception of the season, Saints fans began trickling out of the Superdome.

Green's TD catch was his fourth reception on the seven-play drive that put the game out of reach.

"I was just trying to get back into rhythm," Green said. "The last couple of weeks I didn't really feel like myself. Not because I was injured, but because it was just tough to get back into the flow of things."

After missing three games earlier this season with a toe injury, Green had trouble the past two games getting back to his old form. Although Green has now played in three straight games, he said he didn't feel comfortable in the first two because he didn't practice much those weeks. This week, Green said he practiced fully.

"I took every rep," Green said.

This was the first time he had a chance to do that in about a month and a half.

After catching just six passes for 67 yards and a touchdown through his first two games back from the toe injury, he caught six passes Sunday for a game-high 127 yards and the timely late touchdown.