In this week's installment of Monday Impressions, we take a look at what impressed most on offense in Sunday's 24-19 home-opening win against the Chargers at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals overcame turnovers and played well in every phase, especially on offense, and coach Marvin Lewis underscored that when he met the media.
LEWIS' FIRST IMPRESSION: "It was a good win for us, one offense, defense and special teams all made good plays. We kept playing, and hung in there, and stayed ahead throughout the game, which was a good thing."
OUR FIRST IMPRESSION: The Bengals' offense in particular looks to be getting in high gear behind a man much-maligned during the offseason. For the second week in a row, they received solid play at quarterback, where Andy Dalton threw three touchdown passes to three different wide receivers, including Marvin Jones. It was a triumphant return to the end zone for the fourth-year receiver who missed all of last season due to injuries. He had 10 touchdowns in 2013. Dalton is quickly quieting this summer's boo-birds with his play on the field.
BEST OVERALL IMPRESSION: Receiver A.J. Green made a spectacular touchdown catch while plucking the ball out of the air on a Dalton pass that came in high but away from the defender. Green grabbed it and got both feet down as he traveled through the back of the end zone. It was the highlight play of the game while showing Green's tremendous athletic ability.
MAKING A GOOD IMPRESSION: Tight end Tyler Eifert scored for the second week in a row. All three -- Jones, Green and Eifert -- finished with between 45 and 49 yards receiving, along with their scores. Rookie Jake Fisher caught a wide-open 31-yard pass as a tackle-eligible receiver, just some of the contents inside the "Pandora's Box" that offensive coordinator Hue Jackson promised that we would see.
LASTING IMPRESSIONS: You can credit that kind of pass production to Dalton feeling comfortable and Andrew Whitworth and the boys coming up big on the offensive line. The Bengals' huge group of linemen held sway throughout and cleared large holes while keeping the pocket clean, fueling a 4.9 yards-per-carry average without permitting a sack.
Running back Giovani Bernard took advantage of opportunity and the nice-sized running lanes, rushing for 123 yards and missing his career high by 14 yards. He had twice as many carries, 20, than backfield mate Jeremy Hill, who had 10. They split carries evenly in the opener at Oakland, but Hill was benched Sunday after losing two fumbles.
The defense tried to help make up for the mishandles with two fumble recoveries. So did Bernard, who averaged 6.2 yards per carry while Hill watched from the sideline. Hill averaged 3.9 yards per tote.
The Bengals ran it 36 times and passed it 26, eating game clock and playing keep away from Chargers' quarterback Philip Rivers, who had 27 passing attempts, completing 21. He was intercepted once and sacked four times. Last week against the Lions, Rivers was 35-of-42 passing for 404 yards with two TDs, two picks and two sacks.
The Bengals were edged in the time-of-possession battle, but they had two more offensive drives than did the Chargers, and they outrushed San Diego, 175-131.