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NFL preseason Week 3: 5 reactions to Bengals’ loss in Washington

Vontaze Burfict stole the show, Carl Lawson and Jordan Willis continue their stellar play, and more from the third preseason game of the year.

The Cincinnati Bengals fell to Washington on Sunday, 23-17 in the third preseason game of the year.

As mentioned last week, in this new weekly segment, we’ll post five reactions to each game the Bengals play this year. Our reactions could be about the promising/saddening signs on the field, the bigger picture that may have come into focus with the most recent game, what we hope to see changed or developed further, or just how we feel in general.

Check out our reactions and the relevant plays in the following video:

Reaction #1 - Awe - This was in response to Vontaze Burfict’s 62 yard interception return for a touchdown. In case anyone forgot who the key to the defense is, he reminded us in one instant. Burfict displayed tremendous athleticism, speed and playmaking ability on Sunday in Washington. But he also showed the brashness this team needs, both in stiff arming quarterback Kirk Cousins, and in his touchdown celebration. Unfortunately, the Bengals might not have him around to start the season as he’s facing a five-game suspension, which he will appeal.

Reaction #2 - Disappointment - (Dr. Hodgie E. Smodgie worded it a bit differently in the video above.) The debut of John Ross was quite a bit less exciting than John Sheeran and I had hoped. The fastest player in the league had just one touch, an eight yard rush on a jetsweep. Bengals quarterbacks Andy Dalton and AJ McCarron failed to connect with the rookie and targeted him just twice.

Reaction #3 - Invigoration - (Dr. Hodgie had an interesting way of phrasing this one.) Punter Kevin Huber’s behind the back move to avoid a punt block (and potentially giving up a touchdown) was fresh, unexpected and simply breathtaking. Sure it didn’t help the Bengals pick up a first down, but it’s the preseason—we’ll take exciting plays without stellar results, for now.

Reaction #4 - Relief - The defense rebounded from a lackadaisical showing against the Kansas City Chiefs in the last preseason game. Yes, the defense gave up 23 points, but they held the Redskins to less than 100 total rushing yards, frustrated Cousins, and all three promising new pass rushers (Carl Lawson, Jordan Willis and Chris Smith) registered sacks. This, against an offense that has its fair share of weapons, was impressive and the starters weren’t the problem. It was the backups who allowed the bulk of the points.

Reaction #5 - Cautious Optimism - Joe Mixon was solid overall (8 carries, 31 yards, 1 reception, 6 yards). But his fumble is the kind of thing that, especially on a Marvin Lewis-coached team, will move him down the depth chart. So while Lawson, Willis and Mixon have dazzled, we shouldn’t get too excited about them taking a huge number of snaps come Week 1 of the regular season.