Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green (18) gets a pat on the helmet from quarterback Andy Dalton (14) and guard Kevin Zeitler (68) after catching a pass for a touchdown during the fourth quarter against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Everbank Field. (US Presswire)

The Bengals spent the first three weeks wondering when the defense ranked seventh in the NFL last year would show up. On Sunday, the type of performance expected from coordinator Mike Zimmer arrived. Of course, it came with an assist from a ragged Jaguars offense.

Cincinnati entered the game ranked 31st against the rush but contained Maurice Jones-Drew to only 38 yards while running away with a 27-10 victory at EverBank Field.

For the second consecutive game, the Bengals (3-1) racked up six sacks with two coming from defensive tackle Geno Atkins. Remarkably, with four cornerbacks inactive due to injury Terence Newman and Adam Jones made up for the loss and held down the battered back end against the Jaguars  (1-3). Even Chris Crocker, signed off the street on Thursday, enjoyed a triumphant return with an interception. The pick was the first of the season for Jags' QB Blaine Gabbert, who spent most of his day checking down to backs and tight ends. He finished 23 of 34 for 186 yards, one touchdown and the pick.  

While the Bengals defense needed work, no fix is necessary for A.J. Green. He terrorized Jacksonville CB Rashean Mathis repeatedly down the sideline in grabbing six passes for 117 yards and a touchdown.

Andy Dalton's emergent second season continued as he shook off an early interception to hit 20 of 31 for 244 yards with two touchdowns and a running score. Sunday wasn't all about Green, however, he spread the ball around to eight different receivers.

When the game turned: Jacksonville looked to be climbing back after cutting the lead to a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Dalton responded by driving the team 80 yards in seven plays, topping it off with a perfectly thrown 18-yard go-route down the sideline for a touchdown. Green slipped Mathis with his release off the line and the corner never recovered. At that point, the score flipped to 24-10 and the Bengals never looked back.

Highlight moments: Cincinnati opened the game sluggish with penalties and a turnover, appearing to be sleepwalking through the first half. After being forced to punt at their own 34, Marvin Lewis dialed up a fake punt. Long snapper Clark Harris fired off a 45-degree snap to RB Cedric Peerman, who ran all alone for a 48-yard gain. It eventually led to a Dalton touchdown pass.

Top-shelf performances

  • LB Vontaze Burfict – 8 tackles (all solo), two TFL, one sack, one QB hit, one pass defensed. Breakout game for the rookie linebacker. The sack was the first of his career.
  • WR Green – 6 receptions, 117 yards, one TD. First back-to-back 100-yard receiving games of his career. He racked up 183 yards last week at Washington.

Gabbert gives it up: Blaine Gabbert's improved sophomore season experienced the first major hiccup Sunday. Gabbert threw his first pick of the year, an overthrown pass that landed in the hands of awaiting safety Crocker. Gabbert completed 23 of 34 passes, but the telling stat was the lowly 5.5 yards per attempt. 

Jacksonville only managed one reception longer than 20 yards on the day and that was a screen pass Marcedes Lewis took 23 yards by breaking a tackle.

What they said about the 48-yard fake punt run by Cedric Peerman:

  • Bengals RB Peerman -- “Just a simple little play there. The guys did a great job up front. It's just something we like to do, I'm just glad it worked. I just don't want to drop it, don't want to bobble it, just catch it clean.”
  • Bengals coach Marvin Lewis -- “That's a big play in the game. It kind of turned the field position around and we got the score.”

What they said about the multiple sideline go routes where Green burned Mathis:

  • Bengals WR Green: “Andy's clicking on all the cylinders. That's the great thing about Andy, if the D is on top of me he's going to put it on my back shoulder. If he is trailing me, he'll put it over my shoulder.”
  • Bengals QB Dalton: “Shows how talented he is. When he's one on one we will take that chance every time. We always feel like regardless of how they are playing we are going to be able to put it the other way.”

Numbers you should know: RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis had never fumbled as a pro. He went his first 589 touches without coughing it up. Yet, for the second time in as many games he fumbled Sunday. He even fumbled a third time, though was able to fall on it. This went from being an aberration to a concern.

“He's got to take care of that,” Lewis said. “We have to address it. He's got to take care of it, it's big.

Going forward: Jaguars -- Jacksonville exits with more questions than answers on a day it couldn't take advantage of opportunities and lacked explosion on offense. They host the Bears next week and will be attempting to avoid three straight home losses to open the season. That's a prospect the crowd that spent much of the fourth quarter booing and streaming for the exits wouldn't take well. ... Bengals -- The Bengals know this is the portion of their schedule necessary to surge. Miami and Cleveland come up the next two weeks and the Bengals will be favored to jump to a 5-1 start. That is only if they can continue last season's trend of winning the games they should. They finished the year a perfect 9-0 against teams that didn't make the playoffs. Now, they were 0-8 against teams who did qualify for the tournament, but that won't be a stat worth discussing until later in October.

Follow Paul Dehner Jr. for Bengals updates on Twitter @CBSBengals.