CINCINNATI (AP) — A.J. Green was right. The defending Super Bowl champions have a lot of holes, and not just on their defense.
Andy Dalton threw a career-high four touchdown passes — each to a different receiver — and the Cincinnati Bengals ended their four-game losing streak by beating the reeling New York Giants 31-13 on Sunday.
The Bengals (4-5) took advantage of a fumble and Eli Manning’s two interceptions, which set up third-quarter touchdowns and helped Green back up his observation that there are a lot of holes in New York’s defense.
That’s not the only place.
The Giants (6-4) head into their bye week with back-to-back losses and a lot of issues, especially on offense. Manning had another subpar game, failing to live up his family legacy of beating the Bengals. Older brother Peyton improved to 8-0 against Cincinnati on the same field a week earlier, leading Denver to a 31-23 win.
This one was surprisingly lopsided as the Giants hurt themselves with bad passes, broken coverages, a dropped touchdown pass and penalties in front of a less-than-capacity crowd of 56,614.
Manning was sacked a season-high four times by a defense that hardly touched his brother. He also threw two interceptions under pressure that led to Bengals TDs and a 31-6 lead in the third quarter. Manning finished 29 of 46 for 215 yards, falling to 1-2 career against Cincinnati.
Manning threw for only 125 yards, his fewest in four years, during a sloppy 24-20 loss to the Steelers last Sunday that finished a week of turmoil from Superstorm Sandy. The Giants badly wanted to get back in form before their bye week.
Instead, they were worse.
The Giants gave up a 68-yard punt return, Victor Cruz dropped a pass at the goal line, and New York’s four turnovers in a horrific second half helped the Bengals pull away.
Green didn’t have to take anything back.
Cincinnati’s first big play was made by the Pro Bowl receiver, who went on a New York radio station during the week and said the Giants “have a lot of holes” in their defense. Five plays into the game, he found a huge one. Cornerback Corey Webster let him go down the sideline, apparently expecting help in coverage that never came. Green was wide open for a 56-yard touchdown catch.
The Giants have given up 39 passes of 20 yards or more, 10 for touchdowns. Green has a touchdown catch in eight straight games, tying T.J. Houshmandzadeh for the second-longest streak in club history.
There were openings for all of Dalton’s receivers. Andrew Hawkins made a one-handed catch for an 11-yard touchdown that came off another Giants mistake. Steve Weatherford’s punt went out of bounds at the Cincinnati 14-yard line, but a penalty forced a rekick. Adam “Pacman” Jones slipped through two defenders for a 68-yard return that set up the score.
Jones started Cincinnati’s big third quarter by stripping Ahmad Bradshaw of the ball at the Cincinnati 14-yard line, preventing New York from getting back into the game.
On New York’s next possession, Manning’s deflected pass was intercepted by tackle Pat Sims at the 12-yard line. Dalton threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jermaine Gresham, who outjumped Antrel Rolle in the end zone. Rolle was upset by Green’s “lot of holes” comment, saying he would let his pads do the talking on the field.
Less than 2 minutes later, Manning forced a throw that was picked off by Nate Clements. Dalton’s 10-yard touchdown to Mohamed Sanu made it 31-6. Dalton was 21 of 30 for 199 yards without a sack or interception.