CINCINNATI — Marvin Lewis is not one to gush.
He comes from the school of NFL coaches who believe the less said, the better. To admit to something is tantamount to surrendering something. In this league, you don't give anything away.
Yet as he settled into his press conference seat early Sunday evening at Paul Brown Stadium, even the Cincinnati Bengals head coach had to admit the obvious.
"We played a complete football game today,' Lewis said after his team ransacked the poor visiting New York Jets, 49-9.
Andy Dalton threw five touchdown passes. Marvin Jones caught four of them. The Bengals returned a pair of interceptions for touchdowns. The cushion was 14-0 at the end of the first quarter, 28-6 at the end of the first half and 40 points at the end of the game, by far the widest winning margin in the NFL this season.
"That was ugly, to say the least," Jets Coach Rex Ryan said.
The Bengals boast wins over Pittsburgh, Green Bay and New England, and they entered Sunday having won three straight, including two on the road, but this was a statement game because this was the type of game previous editions would have found a way to lose.
Instead, the Bengals didn't come close to losing.
"The guys have done a great job of staying focused," Lewis said.
A.J. Green was the receiving star the previous two weeks, catching 12 passes for 256 yards. On Sunday, the All-Pro caught seven balls for 115 yards — he had a pair of 53-yard catches — and watched Jones steal the spotlight thanks to eight grabs for 122 yards with the four receiving scores setting a franchise record.
"It's fun when the offense is clicking," said Jones, the second-year pro out of California. "Andy did a great job of distributing the ball."
When you look at Green, Jones, Mohamed Sanu, Jermaine Gresham, Tyler Eifert, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Giovani Bernard, those are some weapons.
"It's a very impressive group," Lewis said. "I think of the Cowboys when they had (Michael) Irvin and (Jay) Novacek and those guys, they're those kinds of parts."
Dalton has blossomed into a quarterback who can use those parts. Considered by some the offense's weak link, the third-year quarterback is now on a sizzling stretch of three straight games of 300-plus yards and three-plus touchdowns passing.
In the season's first five games, Dalton threw five interceptions to match his five touchdowns. Over the three most recent games, Dalton has completed 89 of 131 passes for 1,246 yards, with 11 touchdowns and three interceptions.
In Sunday's first quarter, Dalton completed nine of 11 passes for 147 yards and two scores.
"I'm playing with a lot of confidence right now," he said afterward. "We've just got so many guys that are really talented."
At the halfway point of the regular season, the Bengals are 6-2. They have a three-win lead over Baltimore and Cleveland in the AFC North. They own a four-game lead over stumbling Pittsburgh.
Only a total collapse would cost them the division title.
So entering the second half — starting Thursday night in Miami — the goals are a first-round bye and home-field advantage in the playoffs.
For a team forced to go on the road in the AFC Wild Card Game the last two years, which produced two Bengals losses, a home playoff game would be huge.
"We've got a lot of football left and a lot of work to do," Lewis said. "We're at a five-game stretch with four on the road. We had to really buckle down and go at it."
"We're driving the train straight," Jones said. "Coach says that a lot."
After driving that train right over the Jets, it's on to Miami.
Said Dalton: "We've got to keep this thing going."
John Clay: 859-231-3226. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Blog: Johnclay.bloginky.com. Twitter: @johnclayiv.