JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — With four defensive backs sidelined, the Cincinnati Bengals were supposed to be vulnerable.
The Jacksonville Jaguars even tweaked their game plan in hopes of taking advantage of injuries to starting cornerbacks Nate Clements and Leon Hall and backups Jason Allen and Dre Kirkpatrick.
In hindsight, it was a flawed plan.
Andy Dalton, A.J. Green and Cincinnati’s stingy defense spoiled what was supposed to be a celebratory day for the Jaguars.
Dalton threw two touchdown passes and ran for a score, Green made big plays all over the field and the Bengals beat the Jaguars 27-10 Sunday for their third consecutive win.
This one tainted Fred Taylor’s induction into Jacksonville’s ring of honor.
Dalton and Green burned the Jaguars (1-3) several times, including once to set up a second-quarter touchdown and again for a fourth-quarter score.
Cincinnati’s defense was just as good, finishing with six sacks for the second consecutive week and allowing its fewest yards in nearly two years.
“We played with a chip on our shoulder out there because we felt that we haven’t been playing our best defense,” Bengals defensive tackle Domata Peko said. “Our best defense is ahead of us. … The D-line put a lot of pressure on the quarterback. We knew our guys were young in the secondary and we wanted to take some of the pressure off them.”
The Jaguars thought they could take advantage of those changes. So instead of relying on Maurice Jones-Drew, who had 177 yards rushing last week, Jacksonville turned things over to Blaine Gabbert.
Gabbert completed 23 of 34 passes for 186 yards, with a touchdown and an interception. He was clearly outplayed by fellow second-year quarterback Dalton, who completed 20 of 31 passes for 244 yards.
“I said it from Day 1, Andy is going to be one of the best ones,” said Green, who caught six passes for 117 yards and a score, most of them against Rashean Mathis. “Once he gets into rhythm, he’s one of the best in the league. I’m just fortunate and blessed to have a quarterback like that.”
More than 30 former Jaguars, including Kyle Brady, Mark Brunell, Fernando Bryant, Donovin Darius, Mike Hollis, Keenan McCardell and Marcus Stroud, were on hand for Taylor’s induction.
They left disappointed.
Midway through the fourth quarter, and with heavy rain starting to fall, most of the home crowd had hit the exits, too.
“It’s tough. We wanted to send Fred out the right way,” Gabbert said. “Fred is a phenomenal running back, a great person. We definitely would like to have had a win for him. But we didn’t.”
The Jaguars weren’t even all that competitive.
The Bengals (3-1) outgained Jacksonville 382-212. It was the fewest yards Cincinnati has allowed since giving up 199 to Baltimore in the final game of the 2010 season.
“We knew we had to put pressure on Gabbert and get him out of rhythm,” Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins said. “We had some new guys in the secondary and we didn’t want them to have to make big plays back there. We put good pressure on him and made him hurry his throw or throw before he wanted to.
“If we can exert that type of pressure on quarterbacks every game — we have the offense to score points — we’re going to win a lot of games.”
The Jaguars got off to a terrible start for the second consecutive week. They trailed 14-3 last week at Indianapolis before Jones-Drew dug them out of the hole.
This time, they were down 17-7 at halftime thanks to missed opportunities, a huge special teams error and the first of several Dalton-to-Green passes. Guard Eben Britton also was beaten so often that he got benched at the break.
“I didn’t do a good enough job, that’s about it,” said Britton, who missed the past two weeks with an ankle injury. “Just disappointed that I wasn’t able to get it done. You’ve got to do what’s best for the team.”
Britton had plenty of company in the dumps. Linebacker Kyle Bosworth intercepted Dalton’s first pass of the game and was headed toward the end zone when he fumbled without being touched. The Bengals got the ball back and put together a 74-yard drive that ended in a field goal.
Just when the Jaguars looked as if they were getting some momentum, leading 7-3 and forcing two punts, Bengals coach Marvin Lewis used a fake punt to turn things around. Cedric Peerman took the direct snap and gained 48 yards. Dalton found Chris Pressley for a 1-yard score and a 10-7 lead a few plays later.
Dalton found Green for a 42-yard gain on Cincinnati’s next drive, a perfectly thrown ball over Mathis that set up Dalton’s 1-yard plunge just before halftime.
Dalton connected with Green for an 18-yard score — again over Mathis — on the third play of the fourth quarter that sealed the victory.
“Just got to make plays when my number is called,” Mathis said. “I definitely didn’t do anything to help the team win today.”
Notes: Taylor became the fourth person inducted into the team’s ring of honor, called the Pride of the Jaguars. Left tackle Tony Boselli and former owners Wayne and Delores Weaver also are in. … Jaguars WR Laurent Robinson sustained his second concussion in as many weeks. “Definitely a concern,” coach Mike Mularkey said. … Jones-Drew ran 13 times for 38 yards. … The Jaguars failed to get a sack for the third straight game. … Cincy’s Green leads the AFC in receiving.