LANDOVER, Md. (AP) — On the first play of the game, quarterback Andy Dalton lined up wide right, rookie receiver Mohamed Sanu took the shotgun snap, and A.J. Green darted downfield to haul in a 73-yard touchdown pass.
"It's tough overthrowing that man," Sanu said. "I just put it where he could go get it."
The Washington Redskins fans came to see some razzle-dazzle in Robert Griffin III's home debut. They saw Dalton and the Cincinnati Bengals do it better.
Sanu-to-Green was just the opening statement in a game full of innovative plays, fancy moves and mood swings. The Bengals produced three first-half touchdowns on plays that snapped the ball to three different players, blew a 17-point lead, rallied in the fourth quarter and survived a bizarre final sequence Sunday in a 38-31 win over the Redskins.
"The creativity that we've got here, talent that we have at wide (receiver), the running backs, the different things that we're doing, it's big," Dalton said. "You try to find a way to get an advantage in the game, and we found a couple today."
The Bengals (2-1) have made their reputation on defense, but now their offense looks in step with the evolving score-a-whole-lot-every-week NFL. Cincinnati's offense has put up 30-plus points in back-to-back weeks for the first time since November 2006.
"We're making plays," Green said, "all over the field."
No doubt about that. They ran several end-arounds, used a no-huddle package that befuddled the Redskins, let BenJarvus Green-Ellis take a direct snap on a 1-yard touchdown run and had touchdown completions of 48, 59 and 73 yards.
Dalton completed 19 of 27 passes for 328 yards and three touchdowns. Green caught nine passes for a career-high 183 yards and a score. The game was tied at 24 when Dalton led a pair of long fourth-quarter drives, hitting tight end Jermaine Gresham on a 6-yard completion to take the lead and Andrew Hawkins down the middle for a 59-yard strike that gave the Bengals a two-touchdown cushion with 7:08 left to play.
But Griffin has quickly proven that he's hard to shut down. He brought the Redskins (1-2) back from a 24-7 deficit, then nearly pulled even again after being down 38-24. His 2-yard run at the end of a 90-yard drive cut the lead to 38-31 with 3:35 remaining, and a potential game-tying drive went from Washington's 2 all the way to Cincinnati's 19 in the final two minutes.
Then it got weird. Griffin was sacked for a 15-yard loss. Then he spiked the ball with 7 seconds left. Then tight end Fred Davis was called for a false start. Then coach Marvin Lewis and the Bengals, anticipating a 10-second runoff, thought the game was over and walked onto the field en masse. Then an official called an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on a livid Redskins sideline.