The Bengals escaped Jerry World with a victory tonight, but there will be some serious questions to answer in regard to the starters.
The Bengals defeated the Cowboys 21-13 in their second preseason game of the season. The final score looks great, but the game was not as pretty. The starters, who played for about a quarter, were blanked by the Cowboys’ starting defense. Dallas led 10-0 at halftime and looked in control of the game.
The backup offense gave the team a nice spark of energy, and the defense dug in to hold the Cowboys to just 3 second half points. The Bengals scored 18 of their 21 points in the fourth quarter, showing good rallying ability on the road.
Andy Dalton’s numbers look okay (5/7 for 41 yards), but he wasn’t the same sharp passer he was against Chicago. The Bengals punted on every single drive Dalton played. Joe Mixon was even worse, rushing for just 8 yards on 4 carries and catching 1 pass for 1 yard. AJ Green also had a mediocre stat line, with just 1 catch for 9 yards.
There wasn’t an offensive star, but Brian Hill had a great drive in the fourth quarter where he took all four snaps and compiled 59 yards and a receiving touchdown (from Matt Barkley). Hill flashed his receiving chops in this one. Tra Carson, another backup running back, had a solid game as well, notching 6 carries for 24 yards.
Both Jeff Driskel and Matt Barkley got work, with Driskel getting in the game first. The Bengals played Driskel much more than Barkley, although Barkley did have a great drive with Hill. Driskel also led an impressive touchdown drive in the fourth quarter, but tossed an interception as well. Logan Woodside got his first action tonight, and looked horrendous.
On defense, the linebackers had a nice game. Nick Vigil and Jordan Evans led the team with 6 tackles, and Vigil tacked on a sack. Jordan Willis added 2 sacks and Carl Lawson, to no one’s surprise, had a sack as well. The Bengals did not force any turnovers, which was disappointing for the secondary. Jessie Bates had 4 solo tackles, though, tying with Vigil for most solo tackles on the team.
Special teams had some intrigue tonight as well. Alex Erickson (who also recorded 2 catches for 35 yards) started the night as returner, but didn’t do anything special. Darius Phillips got some work, and had big returns, including a 24 yard punt return. Also, kicker Jon Brown got all the work and looked great. He knocked in a 55 yarder as well as a 34 yarder and his only extra point. Randy Bullock did not kick.
The Bengals may have gotten the win, but the starters need to pick their game up. If they do that in the regular season, they likely don’t win this game. Expect to see this first-team offense get a lot of work in practice this week.