Bengals’ Starters Answer Big Questions In Preseason Opener

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Aug 12, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins (97) rushes Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (5) in the first half in a preseason NFL football game at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 12, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins (97) rushes Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (5) in the first half in a preseason NFL football game at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Minnesota Vikings came to PBS for their preseason opener. There were a few questions surrounding the Bengals. The starters politely answered them.

The Bengals and Andy Dalton picked up where they left off. The offense took the field and ran like a well-oiled machine. If there were any worries about a lack of desire, it wasn’t evident from the starters. In the end, the Vikings won. But, the 17-16 score didn’t tell the whole story. From the beginning, there was a sense of purpose to what Cincinnati was doing.

it’s been a long six months since the last game.

The Bengals owned and dominated the first quarter. In fact, the entire game was an exercise in keep-away tactics. The total time of possession for Cincinnati was 31:29. That may seem like a close game, but it truly wasn’t. The Vikings held the ball longer, after wholesale substitutions by the Bengals. 

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This was the first preseason game. There weren’t going to be any amazing game plans. Yet, the basic play calls and formations proved to be enough. The starters answered most of the questions fans wanted answered. Coming off a season-ending thumb injury, Dalton looked great. How good was the offense? Minnesota managed only three plays on offense.

The concern that fans had during practices with the Vikings were put to rest. The Bengals were prepared for Mike Zimmer’s bunch. The Vikes brought the heat, with high-pressure blitzes. Dalton avoided the rush by getting off quick passes to keep the offense rolling.

Dalton ended his night 4-for-5 for 32 yards. When A.J. McCarron took over, the offense didn’t skip a beat. The backup QB engineered a 22-play drive that consumed 12:24. New offensive coordinator Ken Zampese looks like a keeper. Ball control is an important part of life in the AFC North. 

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /

How about that Bengals’ defense? They came out with the intensity needed to keep the Vikings at bay. Geno Atkins was a beast. On Minnesota’s first play, Atkins burst through the line and caused Teddy Bridgewater to scramble for his life. After backpedaling about 12 yards, Teddy was forced to settle for a three-yard gain.

After being without Bengals football since the AFC Wild Card Game, preseason battle number one showed promise. The offense looked sound. Carlos Dunlap and Co. still have a chip on their shoulder. In fact, that was the attitude of the first quarter. Dunlap was ready to get things going.

"“It seems like it’s been a long six months since the last game, so we were anxious to get out there again and start getting after the quarterback.”"

There are still questions to be answered about the backups. Margus Hunt was left in for an extended period and looked like he was struggling. Overall, the Bengals played well enough to win. A missed field goal and failed  two-point conversion try would have changed the ending.

Next: Are They Ready?

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