It's only preseason but that doesn't change the fact that winning feels a whole hell of a lot better than losing.
The Bengals took down the Panthers tonight by a score of 24-13. The Bengals did all their scoring with the first-string offense in the second quarter. Both Andy Dalton and A.J. Green got their first touchdowns in their professional careers on a 40-yard bomb from the rookie quarterback to the rookie wide receiver. Both Cedric Benson and Bernard Scott had a touchdown each also, Benson on a one-yard run to cap off a drive in which he carried the offense and Scott on a 12-yard run after a recovered muffed punt from the Panthers' Armanti Edwards.
To cap it all off, Mike Nugent kicked a 55-yard field goal through the uprights at the end of the first half, sending the Bengals on a 24-0 run.
Once the second quarter ended, the Bengals starting offense stayed off the field and the team stayed off the scoreboard. However, Dalton and co. did enough to secure the win -- thanks to an impressive performance by the defense.
After Cam Newton scrambled for a 16-yard touchdown in the first quarter to give the Panthers their one and only lead of the night, the defense tightened down and only allowed two field goals for the rest of the game, one from 42 yards and one from 38. It seemed that the defensive line was in the backfield every time Newton dropped back to pass and the Panthers' rookie quarterback was on the run or on his back for much of the game.
Despite a few runs from the Panthers' running backs, the Bengals defense had their opponents on lock down almost all night. There wasn't a first-string player who looked bad and the majority of the second- and third-string players looked really good.
This was the kind of game that the Bengals, and their fans, needed. A loss tonight would have lowered the team's confidence even more than it was from the first two games. A dominating win, like the win the Bengals got tonight, can do wonders for a young team.
Hopefully it carries over into the week and into the final preseason game against the Colts. Hopefully it carries over into the regular season as well.
I know this game doesn't count, but I know that the Bengals players that walked off the field in Paul Brown Stadium and all the fans who were at the game and watched it from home will sleep much better tonight than they have since the preseason began.