NEW ORLEANS – Andy Dalton couldn't wait to forget one of the worst outings of his career a little over a week ago.
He'll want to remember the way he played in the Superdome.
"That's the way this league is; it's so week-to-week," Dalton said. "You lose and everybody wants to run you out. You win, everybody is going to like you. I'm not too worried about that."
Dalton didn't look worried about taking on the Saints in the Superdome, either, even though New Orleans had lost only once at home since 2012. He connected on 73 percent of his throws for three touchdowns, and Cincinnati (6-3-1) moved back into first place in the AFC North with a 27-10 victory on Sunday.
Saints fans tried to generate chaos-inducing noise when the Bengals' offense was on the field, but Dalton exuded calm and poise. He threw confidently from the pocket for much of the game, but also scrambled away from pressure as needed and completed passes on the run.
His performance represented an about-face from his 10 completions for 86 yards and a QB rating of 2.0 during a 24-3 loss to Cleveland in Week 10. Against New Orleans (4-6), Dalton was 16 of 22 for 220 yards, did not throw an interception and finished with a passer rating of 143.9. Two of his touchdowns went to tight end Jermaine Gresham. The third was a pin-point 24-yarder along the left sideline to A.J. Green, who had six catches for 127 yards.
"We know what we have in Andy Dalton," Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said. "We've noticed that he generally is able to put things behind him and move forward. He did a good job with that."
Despite the loss, the Saints were still tied for first place in the NFC South with Atlanta (4-6), which defeated Carolina (3-6-1).
Still, coach Sean Payton didn't try to conceal his concern over the Saints' apparent regression during a two-game skid.
"We obviously have to look closely at every little thing," Payton said. "In a game like today, you come away from it disappointed and frustrated."
Here are some things to know about the Bengals' convincing victory in New Orleans:
RUNNING DOWNHILL: Jeremy Hill can carry Cincinnati's running game while Giovani Bernard recovers from a hip injury. Hill carried 27 times for 152 yards, marking the second time in his rookie season that he has eclipsed the 150-yard mark in a game. Making it sweeter for Hill was performing like that in the state where he grew up and starred at LSU. "It was big for me, coming back home," said Hill, who'd attended numerous NFL and college games in the Superdome growing up, but never played there. "I had a lot of family members and friends here."
DOME DOLDRUMS: A few weeks ago, the Saints seemed unbeatable in the Superdome. Not anymore. The Saints have lost two straight at home, starting with a 27-23 overtime loss to San Francisco in Week 10. New Orleans 17-point margin of loss was its biggest in the dome since a 31-14 loss to Tennessee in 2007. The last time the Saints scored as few as 10 points in the Superdome was a 16-10 loss to Washington in 2006.
DIGGING IN: Cincinnati's defense demonstrated depth in the absence of starting linebacker Vontaze Burfict and starting cornerback Terence Newman. Cincinnati held Drew Brees to 255 yards passing, his second-lowest total this season while ending running back Mark Ingram's streak of 100-yard rushing games at three. "We didn't give up any deep balls," Bengals cornerback Adam Jones said. "That's the key to our defense."
CLOSING RANKS: After New Orleans allowed Cincinnati to convert nine of 13 third downs, Saints cornerback Keenan Lewis, who played sparingly while recovering from a knee bruise, pledged to take more of a leadership role. "Being one of the older guys in the secondary, it's time for me to step up and bring my leadership and show them the things that I was taught from some great veteran guys," Lewis said. "My play on the field can say one thing, but it's time for me to show them how to really get the job done. If they don't buy in, then they gotta go."
INJURIES: The Saints are now very thin at safety. Rafael Bush, a starter since Jairus Byrd went on injured reserve earlier this season, said he fractured his tibia in the fourth quarter against Cincinnati. Meanwhile, Bengals reserve defensive end Margus Hunt left the game with an ankle injury in the first half.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL