It couldn't have been a better first half by the Cincinnati Bengals, sporting a productive offense designed with unpredictability and effective production coming from unexpected angles, specifically in the passing game. The defense was aggressive, confusing rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III, taking shots on the quarterback even when the passer didn't have the football. It was a nearly a perfect half, the best of the season without debate. A 24-10 half time lead should have been 27-3, due to a poor fake field goal decision and a pick-six that was deflected out of Dalton's hand from a Ryan Kerrigan pass rush.
Then the third quarter everything changed. The Redskins offense pounded Cincinnati's defense while the Bengals offense struggled with two three and out possessions and BenJarvus Green-Ellis' first career fumble. At one point a 17-point lead late in the second quarter was wiped out and the Redskins tied the game at 24 midway through the third.
Fortunately the Bengals recovered, jumping out to another 14-point lead in the fourth quarter. Cincinnati's defense went into a prevent late in the game, allowing the Redskins to reduce Cincinnati's advantage to a touchdown. After an onside kick that was flagged for illegal touching, the Bengals failed to kill the clock and the Redskins went into another offensive assault against a prevent defense. With :29 seconds remaining in the game, Washington reached the Bengals 19-yard line. Then an intense pass rush from Carlos Dunlap resulted into a Geno Atkins quarterback sack, a false start led to an unsportsmanlike conduct and an incomplete on third and 50 situation from the Redskins 41-yard line gave the Cincinnati Bengals a 38-31 win.