The defense finally forced a three-and-out, which was great to see after they allowed their opponents to march down the field with ease on the opening drive in the first two preseason games.
Vontaze Burfict got the first tackle of the game, followed by tackles by Nick Vigil and then a shared tackle by Kevin Minter and Vigil. Quickly, the linebackers were making their presence felt, including in the open field. The third play from scrimmage saw a penalty on Washington, and the next play was a sack from Chris Smith (though Wallace Gilberry was also involved) on Kirk Cousins. It was great to see Smith in with the starters and awesome to see him still making noise despite playing against better competition.
Then came the offense. On the first offensive drive, Jeremy Hill had five rushes for 15 yards and 1 touchdown, Joe Mixon had two rushes for 12 yards and John Ross had a jetsweep that went for eight yards. Dalton was five of six for 55 yards, and added six yards on the ground. Meanwhile, A.J. Green was the star of the drive, going four-for-four for 43 yards. Tyler Boyd also added one catch for 12 yards.
It was just what we wanted to see with the starters on the field. The Bengals defense stopped the opposing offense and the Bengals offense scored its first touchdown of the preseason.
The next defensive drive was more of the same for the Bengals, Washington went three-and-out, and the defense looked good forcing that to happen. When the offense got back on the field, Andy Dalton attempted to hand off a ball to Mixon, but the ball was fumbled and recovered by Washington. It was a rookie mistake by Mixon and he ended up benched for the rest of the first half because of it. He did return immediately to start the second, though.
The highlight of the first half was definitely Burfict’s pick-six in the second quarter. It was potentially the most fun play of the preseason... at least for the Bengals.
The only negative of the first half was the injuries that occurred. Soon after Burfict’s touchdown, he went down with a back injury. He was also evaluated for a concussion, but passed the protocol. If I were to make an assumption, I’d say he’ll be fine for Week 1’s matchup with the Baltimore Ravens.
Hill also went down with an ankle injury, though it’s unclear when the injury occurred. Giovani Bernard took all snaps at running back in the first half following the injury to Hill.
And lastly, running back and special teams ace Cedric Peerman went down with a left shoulder injury in coverage on a punt return. He was nearly immediately ruled out.
Hopefully the injured Bengals prove to be OK and the team continues to produce similarly to how they did in the first quarter when the season begins on September 10.