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Scripted play gives John Ross a chance to make a big splash

Bengals Bills Football

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver John Ross (15) catches a pass in front of Buffalo Bills’ Jordan Poyer (21) during the first half of a preseason NFL football game Sunday, Aug. 26, 2018, in Orchard Park, N.Y. Ross scored a touchdown on the play. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)


Bengals receiver John Ross had a lost season as a rookie. He made up for lost ground on Sunday, during a preseason game in Buffalo.

Ross caught a 57-yard touchdown pass on Cincinnati’s first play from scrimmage, a scripted, premeditated effort to throw the ball deep to the man who set the all-time speed record at the Scouting Combine 18 months ago.

Expect more of the same, as long as Ross is healthy. Which he wasn’t in 2017.

“Every chance John gets out to play, it’s another step forward for John in his abilities and his
career and so forth,” Bengals coach Marvin Lewis told reporters. “It was a good way to start it tonight and hopefully he can continue to build upon those opportunities.”

Ross blew by the coverage (and blew through a hold from cornerback Vontae Davis) to get behind the defense. Ross had to wait briefly for the ball, and then he danced around and behind and around and behind and around defenders to secure the final few yards of field position for the score.

“It was really exciting, just to finally get an opportunity to make a play, especially on a deep ball,” Ross told reporters after the game. “The finish was the best part so, for me to be able to go out there and do that is amazing. . . . I kind of just wanted to make a quick move and see if it worked, and it did.”

Ross and the rest of the Bengals had been aware that the first-play bomb was coming.

“I was excited because the whole team knew about it so, everybody said, ‘First play we’re going
to score,’” Ross said. “Everybody was basically getting me ready, pumping me up. Then it happened. It was
crazy when I got back to the sideline, everybody was so excited.”

The guy who threw the ball knew that it was going to work.

“I think just for us, take a shot with John and we knew that was going to be the first play. I said in the huddle it was going to be a touchdown,” Bengals quarterbacks Andy Dalton told reporters. “I said on the sidelines before the game it was going to be a touchdown. So I’m glad it happened that way.”

Bengals fans will be very glad if this kind of thing happens on a regular basis, especially with A.J. Green on the other side. If Ross can get it done, the Bengals’ opponents will be pick poison-picking mode when trying to defend passes.