BALTIMORE -- A.J. Green had one of the best fourth quarters of his career to lead the Bengals (3-0) to Sunday's victory. In addition to the go-ahead 80-yard touchdown reception he had down the seam with 6:37 remaining in the ballgame, he also caught the eventual winning pass when quarterback Andy Dalton checked into a formation just before the two-minute warning. Dalton's presnap audible moved tight end Tyler Eifert from out wide and to the line of scrimmage that got Green into a fade route. Following the 7-yard score, the Bengals held defensively for the win.
What it means: This win keeps Cincinnati in the AFC North driver's seat. As the only undefeated team in the division, the Bengals continue to extend their lead. It's a lead that has swelled now to three games on the Ravens, who fell to 0-3. It's the first time the Ravens have started a season with that record. The win in Baltimore also is the Bengals' second straight there.
What were they thinking? Coming out of the two-minute warning near the end of the second quarter, Bengals coach Marvin Lewis pushed his offense onto the field for a fourth-and-1 from near the Ravens' goal line. Instead of handing the ball off to Jeremy Hill for a short carry, Lewis opted to have Dalton pass. When Dalton finally threw, he connected with Eifert, who turned with the ball in his hands while attempting to stretch for the end zone. The ball crossed the plane of the goal line but then came out when it hit a defender's leg. At first, the play was ruled a touchdown. A review of the play was overturned, though, as officials said Eifert didn't establish possession. What were the officials thinking? Eifert appeared to take four steps after his catch before pushing the tip of the ball across the goal line.
One reason to panic: The Bengals were erratic for much of the game, losing their handle on the contest after flat-out dominating it through the first 19 minutes. A questionable call from an official, a few bad penalties, a couple of bad turnovers and Cincinnati went from priming itself for a blowout to an unexpectedly tight division game. The fact that they had trouble holding their lead was problematic. They won't escape with too many wins if they repeat some of the issues they had Sunday.
One reason to get excited: While the Bengals may have had some hair-pulling moments in the second and third quarters, the fact they were able to pull it out in the fourth certainly was something Bengals fans ought to be encouraged by. Green's 80-yard go-ahead touchdown reception was the perfect answer to a series that ended moments prior with a sack and fumble return for a touchdown. It was the type of resiliency the Bengals were forced into showing for the first time this season and they responded well. Their fans ought to be proud of that.
Fantasy watch: If you kept Green on your fantasy team despite his comparatively slow start through the first two games, you were finally rewarded. The Pro Bowl receiver hauled in 10 passes for 227 yards. It was one of the most dominating individual performances from an opposing receiver in Ravens history. He had eight receptions through the first two games, contributing to his 16-point fantasy total in those contests. Green's fantasy owners picked up 34 points alone Sunday.
Ouch: Cincinnati has been good about avoiding major injury all this season and that continued Sunday. Although cornerbacks Adam Jones and Dre Kirkpatrick left with what appeared to be serious injuries in the third quarter, they ended up returning to the game and finishing. Jones hurt his left arm on a kick return and Kirkpatrick was down after a touchdown pass with an unspecified injury. Other than those issues, the Bengals came out of this physical division battle relatively healthy.
RB battle brewing? Do the Bengals have a running back battle brewing? If Jeremy Hill isn't careful, he could be subjected to one. The player tabbed as Cincinnati's starter when the season began continues to flounder. His 1.8 yards-per-carry average on 12 carries paled in comparison to Giovani Bernard's slightly more impressive 3.7-yard average as the Bengals' No. 2 back. Although he could still increase his average, Bernard has been running all season more like he did as a rookie, instead of the less exciting brand of running that he showcased last year.