CINCINNATI — Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow set the tone on the opening coin toss.
“We want the ball,” he said.
Four plays into the opening drive, Burrow connected with wide receiver Tyler Boyd on a 60-yard touchdown pass.
That was only the start — as the Bengals romped over Atlanta 35-17 in front of 66,158 fans at Paycor Stadium on Sunday.
“Whenever you go down and score on the first drive with a play like that, you think it could be one of those days,” Burrow said after the game. “It ended up being one of those days.”
Burrow finished the game with 481 yards passing and completed 34-of-42 attempts with three touchdowns in the air and one on the ground.
His performance was the third-best among Bengals quarterbacks.
It came in behind his own performance of 525 yards and the 490 yards thrown by Boomer Esiason.
“It felt good,” Burrow said. “We were rolling in that first half, most of the second half too. We didn’t score on two of the drives. It was a pretty complete game and good to see. You’d like to score on every possession, I thought we could have. We left something out there but overall; it was a complete effort.”
On the next possession, Cincinnati (4-3) grinded out an 11-play drive that went 71 yards and featured a Burrow flip-of-the-wrist-pass to running back Joe Mixon — good for 22 yards.
Burrow kept the pace going with a back-shoulder toss to Ja’Marr Chase for 15 yards, and followed that with a 14-yard completion to Boyd.
Mixon pounded out the 1-yard TD for the 14-0 lead.
Burrow exploded for 196 yards passing in the first quarter, and piled up 331 in the first half.
“We saw a lot of spots on film that we could take advantage of,” Burrow added. “We jumped out early on them. They ended up putting in an extra defensive lineman in there to get some pressure. The line did a great job handling that, so we spread them out and let out guys go make plays.”
Boyd had eight catches for 155 yards and one touchdown, while Chase had eight receptions for 130 yards and two TDs — while Tee Higgins caught five passes for 93 yards.
Tight end Hayden Hurst chipped in with six catches for 48 yards.
“The way we dominated today was in all three phases of the game,” Chase said.
Chase put the Bengals up 21-0 in the second quarter when he caught a 32-yard TD pass from Burrow.
He scored again on a 41-yard strike and added a juke move on the Atlanta secondary for the 28-7 lead.
“If we see man (defense), I think everyone knows there the ball is going,” Burrow said.
Toward the end of the third quarter, Burrow plowed into the end zone on a one-yard run for the 35-17 lead to cap a seven-play, 62-yard drive that featured a Burrow-to-Boyd back-door pass good for 24 yards.
“It’s fun to play in games like that, when Joe goes for 400 yards or more,” Boyd said. “At the end of the day, it’s not easy. But we just took more advantage of our opportunities than they did.”
Cincinnati’s offensive line surrendered three sacks, which is an improvement overall.
“They gave outstanding protection and Joe (Burrow) was able to do what we were able to do with all the skill guys that we have,” Bengals head coach Zac Taylor said.
Taylor added he was happy with the defensive effort, and added that Sunday’s win was the seventh game in a row the defense has not allowed a touchdown in the second half.
“They played well,” he said. “They gave up the line, 10-minute drive for a touchdown and the one-strike play in the two-minutes before the half,” Taylor added. “Aside from that, I thought they did a great job in the first half.”
The Bengals, which moved into a tie for first place in the AFC North with Baltimore, travel to Cleveland to take on the Browns (2-5) on Monday Night Football on Oct. 31.
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