The Bengals notched their first unofficial win of the season as they knocked off the Chicago Bears 30-27 in preseason action.
The Bengals had their first preseason game today against Chicago, and escaped with a win. The game was very close for much of the second half, but the team pulled away and won 30-27 at home. The work on both offense and defense was so balanced that it’s impossible to give the credit to anyone in particular. This Week 1 victory was a real team effort for the Bengals.
They started out hot in the first half, jumping out to a 23-14 lead at halftime. Surprisingly, the starters actually played a little more than a quarter, likely contributing to the 9 point lead. After the Bengals pulled Andy Dalton, AJ Green, and others, the offense slowed down quite a bit. They didn’t score a single point until late in the fourth quarter. The Bears had pulled ahead 27-23, but Jeff Driskel completed a long pass to Auden Tate for the winning touchdown.
The Bengals’ starters proved why they are just that tonight. The star of the offense, Andy Dalton, looked crisp throughout the first quarter. Save for a pick six that was more like a “pick six,” he made every throw on the field. Dalton’s final stat line was 6/8 for 113 yards, 2 touchdowns, and the 1 interception. Driskel mirrored Dalton’s stat line pretty well, and played considerably better than his counterpart Matt Barkley.
No player in particular stood out at running back or wide receiver. Everyone got a little bit of work, but not enough to pile up stats. The leading rusher, besides Clayton Fejedelem, was Tra Carson with 6 carries for 24 yards. Green was the leading receiver for the Bengals with 48 yards, but Josh Malone was not far behind with 41.
No running back was particularly efficient, although Giovani Bernard has a couple nice runs. Rookie Mark Walton was notably inefficient, gathering only 13 yards on 7 carries behind a bad offensive line.
The receivers looked really good as a whole, though. John Ross had a bad early fall, but ended up being a real field-stretching weapon. Malone, Tate, and Tyler Boyd also looked really solid, and should definitely earn playing time in the regular season. Kermit Whitfield had a couple nice catches as well, and may make a late push to make this final roster.
On defense, the playmaking was very evenly distributed. Brandon Bell and KeiVarae Russell both had interceptions, which help position them better to make the roster. Rookie corner Davontae Harris led the team in tackles with 6, which is a good sign for him as well. Geno Atkins played with the starters, and recorded the only sack for the Bengals.
The special teams played very well as a whole, too. Both Randy Bullock and Jon Brown made all their kicks, although all the field goals were under 30 yards. The Bengals rotated returners, too. Alex Erickson handled a couple kicks and punts well, performing much like he has the last two years. Darius Phillips got his crack at kick returns, and took 3 for 68 yards. John Ross and Tyler Boyd each took a punt, but neither did much with them.
Overall, the effort by the Bengals was a net positive. Coming away with a win, no matter how little it means, is always nice. Let’s hope this team can keep its momentum heading into Week 2 against Dallas.