One Bengals player after another hobbled off and headed to the locker room.
They still had more than enough to stay unbeaten.
Running back Giovani Bernard picked up the depleted offense by running for 90 yards and turning short passes into big plays on Sunday, and Cincinnati’s defense held down yet another top quarterback for a 24-10 victory over the Atlanta Falcons.
The Bengals won their home opener and improved to 2-0 for the first time since 2006 despite losing several key players to injury, most notably Green.
The Pro Bowl receiver aggravated an injured toe on his right foot, which kept him out of practice last week. He left during the opening series and didn’t catch a pass for the first time in his four-year career.
Cincinnati still put up some impressive numbers against the Falcons (1-1), who gave up nearly 500 yards for the second straight game.
Bernard ran 27 times for 90 yards, including a 4-yard touchdown. He also caught a team-high five passes for a career-high 79 yards, repeatedly bailing out Andy Dalton by turning short tosses into big gains as the Falcons defense closed in on the quarterback.
Cincinnati’s biggest challenge was to shut down Matt Ryan, coming off the best game of his career. Ryan threw for a club-record 448 yards and three touchdowns in an opening 37-34 overtime win over the Saints.
The Bengals’ blitzing defense got to him. Ryan was 24 of 44 for 231 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions, one of which set up Jeremy Hill’s 1-yard touchdown run for a 24-3 lead in the third quarter.
Nothing new about the Bengals holding down a top passer. Last season, they got the best of Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Matthew Stafford, Andrew Luck, Philip Rivers, Joe Flacco and Ben Roethlisberger on their way to the AFC North title.
Dalton was solid again, completing 15 of 23 for 252 yards without a sack or interception for the second straight game.
Dalton hit Mohamed Sanu on a quick slant against an all-out blitz during the third quarter, and the receiver turned it into an easy 76-yard touchdown when cornerback Robert Alford dived in front to try to knock down the ball and missed.
Sanu completed a 50-yard pass off a pitch out from Dalton during the Bengals’ wasteful first half. They piled up 293 yards, but managed only 10 points. Mike Nugent missed field goal attempts of 38, 49 and 55 yards.
Cincinnati’s depth was tested as several important starters went down, starting with Green’s foot injury.
Already missing tight end Tyler Eifert, the Bengals lost tight end Alex Smith to an injured left biceps in the first half. Right guard Kevin Zeitler hurt his right calf in the first half and didn’t return.
Pro Bowl linebacker Vontaze Burfict left in the second half with a pinched nerve in his neck after taking a teammate’s knee to the helmet. Burfict suffered a concussion in a season-opening win at Baltimore and missed practice during the week.