CINCINNATI (AP) — With each impressive win, Cincinnati is looking more like one of the NFL’s elite.
Andy Dalton added to his growing streak of impressive games, throwing a 55-yard touchdown pass on the run, and the Bengals limited the Kansas City Chiefs to seven field goals during a 36-21 victory on Sunday.
The Bengals (4-0) matched the third-best start in their history, only two wins shy of the club record. It’s their best start in 10 years.
And once again, they had the look of a team that’s built to go deep into the playoffs instead of losing in the first round, as the Bengals have done each of the last four seasons. They haven’t won a playoff game since the 1990 season.
“We started the season with a special intent, and that’s to be great,” left tackle Andrew Whitworth said. “We’re not satisfied with being good anymore.”
The Chiefs (1-3) held onto the ball much longer than the Bengals and piled up more plays and yards, but fell apart as soon as they got within scoring range. They settled for Cairo Santos’ club-record seven field goals.
Santos was good from 22, 40, 51, 34, 40, 29 and 51 yards, tying the record for the second-most field goals in a game in NFL history. It’s not the kind of record a kicker wants.
“I think I would have been happier if I kicked seven extra points and won the game instead of field goals,” Santos said.
Five things to take away from Paul Brown Stadium:
DALTON’S IMPROV: Dalton scrambled to his right to elude the rush and threw a 55-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Tate, who made a diving catch at the 10-yard line, got up and made it into the end zone. It’s the kind of play Dalton has seldom made in the past. He was 17 for 24 for 321 yards without a sack or interception, the 16th 300-yard game of his career.
“It’s what we expect from this offense,” Dalton said. “We’ve got everybody back, we’re healthy. We’ve done a great job so far getting to 4-0.”
BENGALS DIG IN: After finishing last in the league in sacks last season, the Bengals defense is back to applying the pressure. Domata Peko had two of their five sacks, rubbing his belly each time in celebration.
“It’s the ‘Belly Dance,’ man,” Peko said. “I’m hungry. It’s just a big man, a 300-pounder, moving around.”
ANOTHER FIELD GOAL? Santos’ last field goal raised a few eyebrows. Trailing 36-18, coach Andy Reid decided to try the 51-yard kick with 2:34 left instead of going for it on fourth-and-7. Reid decided that was too much ground to make up in one play, but his kicker was surprised they would go for three points.
“It kind of got late in the game and we did need a touchdown rather than a field goal,” Santos said. “But whatever he was thinking, I was just trying to do my job and be there for him.”
PROTECT THE QB: The Chiefs gave up 14 sacks in the first three games, an NFL high. Alex Smith went down five more times on Sunday and was under heavy pressure on passing downs, which contributed to the reliance on field goals.
“It was penalties, it was negative plays, a sack, and all of a sudden you’ve put yourself in second-and-17 and it’s going to be tough,” said Smith, who was 31 of 45 for 386 yards.
SMITH’S RETURN: Top Chiefs cornerback Sean Smith returned from a three-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy and had a tough time covering A.J. Green, who had six catches for 78 yards in the first half before Kansas City adapted its coverage.