CINCINNATI -- A.J. Green practices one-handed catches. He even juggled in high school. But, in practice leading up to Sunday's game against the Cleveland Browns, things didn't go so well in that regard for the Bengals' sixth-year wideout.
"I had some one-handers that I dropped," Green said. "so I'm glad it worked out."
Couldn't have worked out better for the Bengals. Just before halftime on Sunday, Andy Dalton lofted a 'Hail Mary' pass into the end zone. Green leaped among a sea of Browns defenders, tipped the ball to himself, then after a couple juggles managed to haul it in with his right hand for a 48-yard touchdown.
Green's remarkable catch broke open a tight game, giving the Bengals a 21-10 lead at halftime.
"It kind of sucked the life out of (Cleveland)," said running back Jeremy Hill.
Well, not exactly since the Browns scored on their first possession of the second half to make it a four-point game. The life would be sucked out of Cleveland soon after in a 31-17 loss.
The 'Hail Mary' play was indicative of how things are going this season for the 'Andy to A.J.' connection.
Green finished with eight catches for 169 yards and a touchdown. Dalton, despite being sacked 22 times this season, is off to a great start with 2,065 passing yards, eight TDs and two interceptions. Dalton passed for 308 yards on Sunday.
On Sunday, Green took full advantage of the absence of Browns cornerback Joe Haden and made quick work of Tramon Williams and Jamar Taylor.
"I don't care who's across from me," Green said.
Cincinnati amassed 559 yards of offense against an injury-riddled Browns defense. Hill rushed for a career-high 168 yards, the most for a Bengals running back since Cedric Benson rushed for 189 in 2009. Hill also scored on a 74-yard run.
"We've got to be balanced like that every week," Green said. "It gives us the best chance to win."
While being balanced on offense is important, one might argue that 'Andy to A.J.' gives the Bengals the best chance to win. On Sunday, Green was targeted eight times and he caught them all, including a pair of one-handed catches.
Veteran receiver Brandon LaFell also is helping to ease coverage on Green. LaFell, who signed as a free-agent this past offseason to do just that, had four catches for 83 yards, including a 44-yard TD.
"With him on the other side, it's unbelievable," said Green. "He brings a lot of toughness to that room. He does the dirty work that nobody else sees."
Cincinnati (3-4) needed a win on Sunday in order to keep pace in the AFC North. For the second straight week both the Steelers and Ravens lost, helping the Bengals' cause.
The Bengals now head to London where they'll "host" the Washington Redskins with a chance to get back to the .500 mark and perhaps return to the U.S. with some momentum.
"Guys stepped up today," Hill said Sunday. "We performed a lot better than we have been this year, and we just got to keep improving on that."