CINCINNATI — Andy Dalton’s first throw was right there. So were his next seven. Even his longest pass came down in the exact spot he intended. Perfect, all around.
Dalton completed all eight of his passes and led the Bengals to a pair of touchdowns and a field goal during three impressive series Aug. 16 before the New York Jets’ reserves rallied for a 25-17 preseason victory.
“He continues to play the way we think Andy should play all the time,” coach Marvin Lewis said. “It doesn’t surprise me. It’s the way he practices every day. He doesn’t need to be flashy. He just needs to be accurate. He just needs to handle the offense. He does that very well.”
It was Dalton’s first game at Paul Brown Stadium since his turnover-filled 27-10 loss to San Diego in the opening round of the playoffs.
Also, it was his first home game since he signed a six-year contract extension that showed Cincinnati’s commitment.
Couldn’t have gone any better. “That’s about as good as it gets in the preseason, I guess,” Dalton said. “I just felt good out there.”
The fourth-year quarterback went 8-for-8 for 144 yards, one touchdown and a perfect passer rating of 158.3. The Bengals (0-2) rolled up 173 yards while he was in the game, pulling ahead 17-3.
With their starters on the field, the Jets (2-0) had another bad day at Paul Brown. They got drubbed 49-9 in Cincinnati midway through last season — Dalton threw a career-high five touchdown passes in that one.
Their injury-depleted secondary made it easy for Dalton. “Dalton looked like a million-dollar quarterback tonight,” Jets coach Rex Ryan said.
In an experiment, the Jets moved safety Antonio Allen to cornerback and had him cover A.J. Green. It didn’t go well at all — Green caught three passes for 69 yards, including a 35-yard catch after he pulled away from Allen down the sideline.
Dalton threw a 43-yard touchdown pass to Mohamed Sanu on the opening series, fitting a long throw in-between double coverage. “I just had to put my hands out,” Sanu said. “It was all Andy on that one.”
The Bengals went no-huddle with Dalton in the game, part of new offensive coordinator Hue Jackson’s attempt to speed things up. They looked comfortable at the new pace.
“You want to see that every time out,” Lewis said. “Andy looked very sharp.”
Geno Smith played the first half, staying in with the starters after Cincinnati substituted on defense in the second quarter. Smith was 10 of 13 for 98 yards and a passer rating of 65.5. He also ran four times for 20 yards, including a 1-yard touchdown.
Smith had his worst day as a rookie at Paul Brown last season, throwing two interceptions that were returned for touchdowns.
Michael Vick took over in the second half and threw a 17-yard touchdown pass. He went 5-of-9 for 70 yards and scrambled twice for 16 yards. Rookie Ikemefuna Enemkpali blocked Kevin Huber’s punt out of the end zone for a safety.
The Jets had seven penalties for personal fouls, unsportsmanlike conduct and unnecessary roughness. Offensive tackle Breno Giacomini got two of them — one for shoving cornerback Terence Newman after his interception, another for a roll block. Guard Brian Winters also got flagged for two.
(JOE KAY, AP Sports Writer)