CINCINNATI — A different Marvin is getting the attention in Cincinnati.
And how could he not? Marvin Jones set a Bengals record with his four touchdown catches during a 49-9 win over the Jets on Sunday, moving ahead of such Cincinnati luminaries as Isaac Curtis, Cris Collinsworth, Carl Pickens, Eddie Brown and Chad Johnson.
His game was that good. And that promising: Cincinnati (6-2) is in control of the AFC North and on track for a third straight playoff appearance, which would be another franchise first.
“We’re an offense that’s evolving,” left tackle Andrew Whitworth said.
Nobody’s evolving faster than Jones, who was known for his speed when the Bengals drafted him in the fifth round out of California in 2012. He went through the usual rookie growing pains and suffered a knee injury that sidelined him for four games.
He moved into the starting lineup near the end of the season and finished with 18 catches for 201 yards and one touchdown overall — nothing there to suggest he was the answer to the Bengals’ overriding question.
Who could complement All-Pro receiver A.J. Green? On Sunday, Jones did things that Green has never come close to managing.
“It was unbelievable,” Green said. “I don’t think I have scored four touchdowns since high school. That guy is awesome.”
Jones has evolved from a speed-based receiver to one who can make the tough catch while closely guarded. He had a sensational catch for a touchdown during a 27-24 win at Detroit, landing hard on his left shoulder in the back of the end zone while holding onto the ball.
“He’s just Marvin,” coach Marvin Lewis said. “Marvin has a lot of ability and great speed. He’s tough at the catch and he’s showing how tough he truly is.”
Against the Jets, he had three more acrobatic catches in the end zone and turned a short pass into another touchdown by spinning away from tacklers. He also had a 30-yard reception that set up Andy Dalton’s other touchdown throw.
Dalton’s five touchdown passes were a career high. He’s got 11 in the last three games, becoming the first Bengals quarterback with such a run, according to STATS LLC. Six of them have gone to Jones.
“He’s had the potential since he’s been here,” Dalton said. “I think he’s just comfortable with everything that we’re doing and everything that we’re asking him to do.”
The Bengals (6-2) lead the AFC North by 2½ games heading into their game on Thursday night at Miami (3-4), which has lost four straight. The Dolphins will have to worry about more than just guarding Green.
Jones slipped to the fifth round because he wasn’t considered a well-rounded receiver. Against the Jets, he did a little bit of everything, catching all types of passes. He had eight receptions for 122 yards, both career highs.
He has used his draft-day status as motivation to become a complete receiver.
“I don’t think about that too much, but when somebody mentions it I start thinking about it and I start going back to that day and stuff,” he said. “So it does. Every once in a while when I think of it, it does get me a little edgy.”
Green has noticed.
“That guy plays with a chip on his shoulder like no other,” Green said. “He got drafted in the fifth round but you turn on the tape and see some of the plays he makes, he’s a first-rounder.”
He’s the first Bengals receiver to have five touchdown catches in two games since Johnson in 2006, according to STATS. And he now leads the list for touchdown catches in a game.
“When I see people making plays, I want to make plays just as much,” Jones said. “That’s been in me since I was a young kid. I just wanted to be great.”
NOTES: DE DeQuin Evans returned to practice Monday on a roster exemption. He was suspended for the first eight games for his second violation of the NFL’s policy on performance enhancing substances. … Lewis declined to provide an update on middle linebacker Rey Maualuga’s knee injury. Maualuga got his left leg twisted beneath him on Sunday and was taken off the field on a cart. … Whitworth was noncommittal about whether he’ll have a chance to play on Thursday. He aggravated his right knee injury, which was hurt during training camp.