The Cincinnati Bengals fell to the New York Giants in a hard-fought 25-22 defeat on Sunday night, their second preseason loss of 2022.
Don’t fret — there was a lot to like about the second preseason game like Daxton Hill’s first quarter interception, Chris Evans’ 77-yard punt return, or Jake Browning’s fourth-quarter 83-yard TD drive outdone only by the Giants’ game-winning drive in the following two and a half minutes.
There were some surprises, too, like Evan McPherson’s 58-yard miss (and that ill-advised tackle), or Kwamie Lassiter’s egregious drop (we guarantee every man above the age of 30 was pointing at the TV and saying to no one in particular, “Even I could have caught that”).
Either of those could be considered game-changing plays, but we’re going to pick the second to last play (or lack thereof) by the Bengals that prevented McPherson from attempting a 60-yarder to tie the score.
With nine seconds left in the game, Cordell Volson was flagged for a late start penalty, moving the offense five yards back and out of field goal range. As the starting left guard for most of the game, Volson shined more than he struggled, and he can leave this game with his head held high.
That penalty wasn’t necessarily his fault but the fault of the offense’s communication as a whole.
A late penalty prevents Bengals from completing a fourth-quarter comeback against NY Giants in Week 2 of preseason
Of course, there’s no guarantee McPherson would have sank the field goal. He missed a 58-yarder earlier that quarter which proved the second-year kicker was human after all (the snap apparently wasn’t perfect, either).
Yet that penalty call still dealt a catastrophic blow to the Bengals’ chances of gaining even a few more crucial yards to set McPherson up. New York forced a fumble on the very next play, and the game was over.
This was one of those rare preseason matchups that came down to the wire as each team’s offense stayed efficient even in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter. If one really wanted to dwell on the past, a case could be made for the Bengals failing to capitalize on their chances early in the game when three of their offensive drives ended in field goals rather than touchdowns.
In regard to the more salient turning point, however, Volson’s end-of-game penalty sticks out like a sore thumb.
The left guard should nonetheless remain satisfied with his Week 2 performance having firmly established himself as Jackson Carman’s legitimate competition in 2022. Rather than point fingers, the Bengals’ miscommunication is understandable given that it’s just preseason and many second-, third-, and fourth-stringers were playing a real game together for the first time.
We just hope Zac Taylor irons out any potential creases moving forward. If that penalty had been called in the Super Bowl, let’s just say fans would not be very pleased.