In Week 3 of the NFL preseason, the Cincinnati Bengals took on the Washington Redskins and despite a hard-fought effort, lost 23-17. In preparation for the regular season opener, the Bengals can take a lot away from this game. Especially, the first team defensive dominance in the first half.
The Bengals opened the game by shutting down the Kirk Cousins led offense. One of last year’s most explosive offenses, Cincinnati forced the Redskins to an early three-and-out. The ability of Vontaze Burfict and team tackle leader Nick Vigil to shut down the early plays and then the defensive line’s ability to provide pressure on third down was a trend throughout the first half.
Washington has struggled all preseason to move their offense against first team defenses and their second drive didn’t prove anything different. After Wallace Gilberry and Chris Smith met in the backfield to bring down Cousins and end the first drive, Michael Johnson was next. Johnson was not credited with a sack, but his pressure led Cousins to throw a pass into the ground on third down and get flagged for intentional grounding. Three-and-out
On the third drive, the result was practically the same. Washington received great field position after recovering a botched handoff from Andy Dalton to Joe Mixon. The defense, however, stood firm. Two short yardage plays resulted in a 3rd-and-4 in Bengals territory.
If you didn’t see it, well you’ve guessed it. First, there was Wallace and Smith, then there was Johnson and now there is Carl Lawson.
Making It Happen
On 3rd & 4, Lawson beat five-time Pro-Bowler Trent Richardson and sacked Cousins for a loss of eight. The drive would end with a field goal, but essentially it was another three-and-out.
On Washington’s fourth drive, the Bengals really showed their dominance. With Burfict back in coverage and watching Cousins like a hawk, he baited the quarterback to throw to his running back, Cousins threw it exactly where Burfict wanted it to be and Vontaze responded by taking the pass 62 yards to the house.
Burfict’s pick-6 really showed his tremendous shape as he looks faster than Who Dey has seen before. What makes the interception even better is that just before Burfict’s interception, Dre Kirkpatrick had a nice play. On second down, Kirkpatrick came off the edge and applied great pressure and a nice hit on Cousins to force the third down.
Kirkpatrick actually played a really good game overall. He matched up well with Terrelle Pryor and had some key deflections. Overall, the first team defense played well and some of the youngsters like Jordan Willis even shined by forcing a fumble on a strip-sack of Colt McCoy in the third quarter.
If one stat line proves Cincinnati’s defensive dominance, it’s the total offensive yards after the first quarter. Cincinnati’s offense gained 99 yards in the first quarter. Washington had one lone yard.
Obviously, the Bengals lost. So, the defense certainly had its problems. But, the Bengals will definitely be successful if the first team defense and the younger depth can continue playing well.
Also, hopefully, Cincinnati will have their leader, Vontaze Burfict, back on the field.