Marvin Jones hung onto everything he put his hands on – or in – Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium.
The Cincinnati Bengals No. 3 receiver had eight passes thrown his way against the New York Jets and he caught all eight. He made leaping grabs. He caught two on his back shoulder. He stretched out and caught one on his fingertips.
Four of those receptions – a franchise record – went for touchdowns as Cincinnati demolished the Jets, 49-9. It was the Bengals largest margin of victory in 24 years – going all the way back to the 61-7 shellacking of Houston in 1989 when Sam Wyche purposely rubbed it in on Oilers coach Jerry Glanville.
As Jones came off the field after Sunday’s game, Bengals fans hung over the wall above the players’ tunnel and begged him to throw them those orange gloves he’d worn in the game. Usually he does toss them his gear, but not this day.
“Oh no I was keeping them,” he said with a grin. “Normally I give ’em up, but I’ll frame them or whatever. Today it’s only right to keep them. I mean I played a great game.”
Jones – whose eight catches accounted for a game-high 122 yards – did have a great day, as did the entire Bengals team. This was as dominating of a performance as I’ve seen from the Bengals in a couple of decades.
The Bengals are now 6-2 and have won four in a row. The streak began against perennial NFL heavyweight New England and was followed by two gritty, last-minute wins on the road against Buffalo and Detroit.
Sunday the Bengals defense terrorized Jets rookie quarterback Geno Smith, sacking him three times and picking off two of his passes, both of which were returned for TDs.
Meanwhile, Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton dished out passes with the deftness of a casino dealer working a BlackJack table. He had completions to eight different receivers and had a career-high five TD tosses.
“We’re a tough team to play right now,” said receiver A.J. Green, who had three catches for 115 yards. “Our defense has played lights out the whole season and our offense now has all these weapons.”
Sunday the greatest weapon was Jones.
“I don’t know when I’ve ever seen one guy with four touchdowns – maybe high school,” Green said. “But if you saw Marvin come to work every day, then you’d see how he can have a game like this on Sunday. He’s the only guy I’ve seen actually play with a chip on his shoulder. He plays every play like it’s his last.”
Jones – a fifth round pick out of Cal last year, the 166th player taken in the 2012 draft – said he does play with a chip:
“Yes, I do. I’m highly self-motivated. I see people make plays and I want to make plays just as much. Ever since I was a young kid I just wanted to be great … Now nothing’s changed.”
That explains why he was on the field Sunday, even though he had injured his shoulder on a TD catch last Sunday in Detroit and then missed practice this past Wednesday and Thursday.
“I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t worried but our trainers did a great job,” he said. “Friday I was able to move around a little and that gave me some reassurance I’d be OK for Sunday.”
He was more than OK, he was a one-man highlight reel.
When he returned to the dressing room afterward, he tossed the gloves in his locker next to a jar of funky looking Vlasic pickles. During two-a-day drills in the preseason, he drinks pickle juice to keep from cramping.
“No, I didn’t drink any today,” he said laughing. “There’s no juice left in there and the pickles are probably rotten.”
He was asked if he was awarded a game ball afterward and he shook his head: “No, we don’t give out game balls here.”
What the ones he caught for scores?
“Oh yeah, I keep all my touchdowns,” he grinned. “So one way or another, I’ll be taking four balls home today.”
Sunday Marvin Jones was hanging onto everything.