CINCINNATI -- When A.J. Green made a leaping grab over Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard then wrestled the ball away for a 51-yard gain in the first quarter of Thursday night's game, the Bengals knew it might be a big night for quarterback Andy Dalton's top target.
Green wasn't pleased with his performance during Sunday's loss to Denver when his key third-down drop in the fourth quarter stalled a potential game-tying drive with seven minutes left. He also lamented a missed assignment on the play before.
"I didn't show up," Green said afterwards.
The six-year veteran and five-time Pro-Bowl selection came into practice this week with added incentive, albeit with a short turnaround.
"I hold myself to a very high standard," Green said. "I know what I'm capable of. Last week I didn't perform to that level. I had to refocus on a short week. Tonight I had to make plays."
Green did make plays on Thursday, time and time again.
He finished with 10 catches for 173 yards and a touchdown, averaging 17.3 yards per catch in the Bengals' 22-7 victory, snapping a two-game skid.
Green was targeted 12 times by Dalton on Thursday.
"That connection is one of the more underrated connections in this league," running back Jeremy Hill said. "They don't get the love that they deserve."
A huge night for Green was as much a product of scheme and game-planning as it was having a motivated receiver, says coach Marvin Lewis.
"A.J. plays a position that if the defense wants to stand people over him, they can stop him," Lewis said. "We have to counter that. We know we have to kind of manipulate things a little bit to shake No. 18 free sometimes."
Dolphins cornerback Tony Lippett, along with Howard, took the brunt of Green's punishment on Thursday.
"He's a great player, a great wide receiver," said Lippett. "I've got to put myself in a better position to make a play on those balls."
Green, who now has 32 receptions this season for 468 yards and two TDs, has had an eventful past week or so.
His wife, Miranda, gave birth to their first child, Easton, on Sept. 21, after 36 hours of labor.
"This is nothing compared to what she went through," said Green. "This is a piece of cake."
Four days later, Green caught eight passes for 77 yards in a 29-17 loss to the Broncos in which the Bengals relinquished a second-half lead.
"Last week wasn't my best game," Green said.
Following Thursday night's game, Green had the look of an exhausted new father who had just riddled the Miami secondary for four quarters.
"I know I'm not going to sleep much tonight, but I'll be with my son," he said. "Once the offseason hits, I'm daddy duty anytime she needs me."