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Preseason Week 3: Bengals come out swinging, give up lead in 23-17 loss to Redskins

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Even though the starting offense scored its first touchdown of the the preseason, the Bengals lead dwindled in a close game before they fell to the Redskins.

Cincinnati Bengals v Washington Redskins Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The Bengals played their first away game of the preseason on Sunday in Landover, Maryland as they took on the Washington Redskins. The Week 3 “dress rehearsal” game was the most anticipated game of the preseason, since the starters received more playing time than in any other exhibition contest. As the regular season approaches, more questions are getting answered and excitement continues building.

The Bengals ended up falling to the Redskins on Sunday, 23-17 after the backups didn’t perform as well as the starters.

The most exciting headline entering Sunday’s game was the announcement of John Ross’ debut. Ross was kept out of the first two games as he fully recovered from offseason shoulder surgery. Giovani Bernard and Dre Kirkpatrick also made their first appearances of the preseason as well, also recovering from a recent surgery and injury respectively. George Iloka, who suffered an injury during training camp, also was expected to make his debut, helping Kirkpatrick round out a thin secondary, but didn’t end up playing in the game as he continues to make his way back from a hyperextended knee.

Even though the Bengals scored on their first possession, the offense looked lacking for most of the game. The excitement of the starter’s first touchdown, a three-yard run by Hill, slowly faded as the Bengals failed to replicate the first drive’s magic. The defense had a similar fate as well, holding the Redskins to one yard in the first quarter. However, the Bengals’ lead disappeared as Kirk Cousins and the Redskins were able to mount the comeback.

The Redskins received the opening kickoff, as Jake Elliott’s kick went for a touchback deep into the end zone. Though he didn’t start, Chris Smith entered the game and sacked Kirk Cousins on third-and-six, forcing a Redskins punt. Smith, who has been surrounded by a great deal of buzz, continues to push for a huge (or even starting) role in this defense and seemed to lock up his roster spot for good on Sunday afternoon. Get used to seeing him in Bengals stripes.

The offense started rolling immediately, picking up five first downs. The Andy Dalton to A.J. Green connection was back, hooking up for four catches on as many targets, and totaling 43 yards on the opening drive. Three of those catches converted into first downs. The drive ended with a three-yard run by Jeremy Hill, who started the game at running back. There was so much to love on that 15-play, 96-yard drive that lasted almost nine minutes. Randy Bullock took the extra point and snuck it inside the right upright. The Bengals first team had finally scored their first touchdown of the preseason after two games of failing to do so.

After receiving a Bullock touchback, the Redskins went three-and-out for a second straight drive. Derron Smith and Michael Johnson were making plays on the short drive and notably, Johnson was lined up at defensive tackle for a play in which he made it into the backfield.

After the ensuing punt, the Bengals turned the ball over. Joe Mixon dropped the exchange with Andy Dalton and the fumble as recovered by A.J. Francis at the Bengals’ 31-yard line. A sack from Carl Lawson on third down (who line up at defensive end against All-Pro tackle Trent Williams) ensured nothing more than a field goal would come from the Redskins. Dustin Hopkins was good from 51 yards, cutting the Bengals’ lead to 7-3.

The Bengals ended up punting, and the Redskins started rolling. As soon as the Redskins thought they were getting momentum, however, Vontaze Burfict intercepted Cousins and returned the ball to the end zone.

Even Cincinnati Reds outfielder Billy Hamilton was impressed.

After Jake Elliott’s extra point, the Bengals extended their lead to 14-3.

The Bengals would have no such answer on the Redskins’ next drive. Cousins was a perfect three-for-three on the drive as Rob Kelly racked up 53 yards on seven carries, including a one-yard touchdown. Hopkins converted the extra point, and the Redskins trailed by only four.

It is worth noting that Burfict left the game after an award tackle on Terrelle Pryor, and was off-the-field for the bulk of the drive.

Again, the Bengals failed to get a first down and were forced to punt it away. The Redskins drove back down the field and were only stopped by a holding penalty in the red zone followed by two incompletions from Cousins. Hopkins scored on a 44-yard attempt, and the Redskins crept closer to the Bengals, 14-13.

The Bengals received the ball on a touchback with 58 seconds left in the game. They were only able to 25 yards on that drive, with 23 of them coming from Bernard’s legs.

After a promising first quarter, the Bengals took a step back in the second. The offense totaled 96 yards on their first drive, while they were only able to gain 15 yards on their next three. On defense, the story was the same. The Redskins only gained one total yard against the Bengals defense on their first three drives, but gained 161 yards on the following three.

The Bengals received the second half kickoff as AJ McCarron took over the offense. After an eight-play, 51-yard drive, Bullock sank a 53-yard field goal to keep the Bengals’ lead secure. McCarron and Alex Erickson connected twice for 36 yards, and Mixon gained 15 yards on four carries.

Trailing 17-13, the Redskins downed Bullock’s kickoff in the end zone. Despite having 16 passing attempts in the first half, Cousins returned for the Redskins in the second half. Cousins missed on his first two passes, and completed his third for nine yards—all against the Bengals’ second team defense.

The Bengals also went three-and-out on their next possession. Colt McCoy led the Redskins offense, but ended up fumbling the ball on his own 31-yard line. Jordan Willis came from the edge and knocked the ball loose, while DeShawn Williams came from the middle and jumped on the ball.

Unfortunately, the Bengals were not able to do anything with this drive. McCarron missed Cody Core twice, and ended up having to settle for a field goal. Elliott missed his first kick of the preseason, pushing the ball wide right. It was a 45-yard attempt and not what any Bengals fan wanted to see from the rookie as Bullock has taken a clear lead in the kicking competition.

On the next possession, the Bengals were able to keep containing the Redskins offense. After Samaje Perine was stuffed at the line of scrimmage on third down, the Redskins decided to go for it on fourth down. Ryan Glasgow met Perine in the backfield for a loss of three, giving the Bengals the ball at their own 47.

The next possession for the Bengals was even more interesting. Rookie running back Jarveon Williams was tackled for a loss on second down and McCarron was sacked on third down. Kevin Huber, who has conceded punting duties to Will Monday so far this preseason, nearly had his punt blocked. He wisely pulled the ball away, and ended up scrambling for a loss of eight on the play for a turnover on downs. The whole drive was a loss of 20 yards, setting up the Redskins in scoring position.

The Redskins scored in four plays. The first play after the beginning of the fourth quarter resulted in a nine-yard reception from tight end Derek Carrier. After Hopkins’ extra point, the Redskins took their first lead of the game, up 20-17.

With 14:55 left in the game, Williams heavily contributed on the ensuing drive. Williams, who is hoping for that final running back spot on the 53-man roster, had plenty of opportunities to showcase his talent. He carried the ball fives times and had one reception on the first six plays of the drive, gaining 23 yards through the ground and 16 yards through the air. After reaching the Washington 12-yard line, McCarron overthrew Alonso Russell and was intercepted by Fish Smithson. Russell finally brought Smithson down, but only after he had returned the interception for 63 yards.

For the second time in a row, the Redskins would set up shop in scoring range. The Redskins would not be stopped, converting on two important third downs. McCoy went five-for-seven with 41 yards. On third-and-goal, McCoy’s pass to Brian Quick was incomplete, forcing a field goal from Hopkins. The Redskins extended their lead 23-17, leaving the Bengals with 3:44 to try and make one last push to the end zone. From there, Jeff Driskel took over at quarterback.

Driskel, who led the come from behind victory for the Bengals in Week 1, looked impressive this week in limited opportunities. He took the Bengals to the red zone just before the two-minute-warning, accumulating 29 rushing yards and 33 passing yards. Once the Bengals reached the red zone, their offense stalled. The Bengals were forced to go for it on 4th down, and the pass was broken up in the corner of the end zone.

With 29 seconds left, the Redskins kneeled the ball at their own 12-yard line to end the game.