CINCINNATI (AP) — Rookie receiver Mohamed Sanu lined up in the shotgun, took the snap and threw a 73-yard touchdown pass on the Bengals' first play from scrimmage.
It was the start of an uncharacteristically wide-open day for the buttoned-down team.
The Bengals also had running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis take a direct snap in a wildcat formation and run for a touchdown. They even tried a fake field goal, one of the few things that didn't work during a 38-31 win in Washington on Sunday.
It was the best indication yet of how much more faith offensive coordinator Jay Gruden has in his young-and-growing offense.
"We had a lot of stuff in the playbook last year," receiver Andrew Hawkins said on Monday. "We got to some of it. I think it's a feel thing. The longer we've been in the offense, he trusts us with a little more. It keeps building that way."
For the first time in his two seasons at Cincinnati, Gruden let his wild side show.
The Bengals (2-1) let one of their receivers fling it for the first time. Sanu, a rookie who ran in the wildcat at Rutgers, took the first snap and saw that Pro Bowl receiver A.J. Green had single coverage with a safety. Green ran right past him, and Sanu got the ball to him for an easy score.
Green-Ellis ran 1 yard for a touchdown off a snap in the wildcat formation, with quarterback Andy Dalton flanking out to the side like a receiver. Later, Dalton threw a pass that Hawkins turned into a 59-yard touchdown.
Part of it was an attempt to take advantage of Washington's attacking style of defense, which leaves receivers with opportunities if the quarterback can get them the ball.
Part of it is a change in philosophy by the Bengals this season. In the past two games — wins over Cleveland and Washington — Cincinnati has scored on pass plays of 44, 50, 73, 48 and 59 yards.
A team that was much more conservative last season with a rookie quarterback and a new offensive system is starting to take off the training wheels.
If you owe under $729k you may qualify for 3.05% APR Govt Refi Plans.