KANSAS CITY, Mo. - There may not be a coach alive who cares how his team wins, as long as it scores at least one more point than the other guys. But coaches prefer balanced teams that display multiple skills on offense and defense.
That's what the Cincinnati Bengals showed on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium. Coach Marvin Lewis' team used all three phases of the game to dominate the Kansas City Chiefs, winning 28-6 and improving its record to 5-5 on the season. On offense, the Bengals racked up 409 yards, with 189 rushing and 220 passing. On defense they kept the Chiefs out of the end zone, allowing only 284 yards while extending the home team's losing streak.
"I thought we played well in all three phases," said Lewis. "Defensively we settled in after the first drive and did a good job. Offensively, we took care of the football and that's something we are constantly talking about. Today was a little bit of a mix of things, and we were able to grind in there pretty good."
The loss was the seventh in a row for the Chiefs who are now 1-9 on the season and a miserable 0-5 at once-intimidating Arrowhead. The stadium was only half-full for the start of the game and a majority of those fans wore black as part of an organized protest against the way the team is being operated by owner Clark Hunt and general manager Scott Pioli.
Cincinnati's second-year duo of quarterback Andy Dalton and wide receiver A.J. Green, along with a stout defense that did not allow a Kansas City touchdown, were the heroes for the winners. Dalton threw for 230 yards with two TD passes and ran for another score. Green had six catches for 91 yards and a touchdown. Running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis had 101 rushing yards and a touchdown.
Run or pass, they were able to do what they wanted against the Chiefs defense.
"We came out and wanted to play fast," said Dalton. "We got stopped on that first possession, but then from there we just got on a roll. We picked up a couple fourth-down conversions, and that's always great because we have confidence in the guys we have."
The Chiefs' confidence level may have hit a new low in the defeat. They started the game with a patchwork offensive line that would be altered even more during the game. They lost left tackle Branden Albert (back) and wide receiver Dwayne Bowe (head/neck) to injuries. They also now have a quarterback controversy as Matt Cassel started, but was yanked at halftime in favor of Brady Quinn.
"We couldn't move the ball offensively, so I changed the quarterback in hopes of generating something," Browns coach Romeo Crennel said. "It really wasn't enough."
The Chiefs put up the first points of the game thanks to a 34-yard field goal from Ryan Succop. The Bengals came back with an 11-play, 78-yard drive that ended with a touchdown catch by Green that had to be seen to be believed. Green caught the four-yard pass from Dalton on the left edge of the end zone with Chiefs cornerback Javier Arenas all over him in coverage. Green reached around Arenas and caught the ball with one hand, while getting both feet down in the end zone. That an the kick by Mike Nugent gave Cincinnati a 7-3 lead.
The Bengals came back midway through the second quarter and scored a second touchdown. The score was set up by a 40-yard Dalton-to-Green pass completion with another nine yards tacked on when Chiefs safety Abram Elam was penalized for unnecessary roughness for his hit on Green. Three plays later Cincinnati thought it had a touchdown as tight end Jermaine Gresham bulled through three potential tacklers and across the goal line. Replay review wiped out the score, saying Gresham's knee touched at the K.C. 1-yard line.
Facing fourth-and-goal, Dalton scored on a pretty bootleg run, completely fooling the Chiefs' defense.
Touchdown No. 3 for the Bengals wrapped up an 11-play, 79-yard drive with a one-yard score by Green-Ellis. The 21-3 lead was chopped to 15 points when Succop hit a 33-yard field goal on the final play of the first half.
Quinn came into the game for Cassel at the start of the third quarter, but the change didn't generate the spark Crennel was looking for from his offense.
"As a team we didn't perform the way we wanted to, so it definitely was a tough day," said Cassel. "It was a tough day for me as well. I wasn't anticipating what happened at halftime. Coach said he wanted to create a spark for the team. That's how it went."
The only score of the second half was the Bengals fourth touchdown, a 14-yard pass from Dalton to rookie wide receiver Mohamed Sanu early in the fourth quarter that set the final score.
The Bengals return to Cincinnati next Sunday to face Oakland, while the Chiefs remain at Arrowhead to play Denver.
Notes: Green's first-quarter touchdown catch pushed his streak of games with a TD to nine, the longest such streak in team history ... With injury problems in the offensive line, the Chiefs had only one starter among the five positions in the same spot as they were for the season opener - left tackle Branden Albert. Then, five minutes into the second half, Albert went down with a back injury and did not return ... the Bengals' first TD drive of 11 plays featured a pair of fourth-down conversions, including a fake punt where Cedric Peerman took a direct snap and ran for 32 yards on 4th-and-3 ... The Chiefs were an ugly 1-for-11 on third down plays.