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5 winners and 6 losers from Bengals vs. Cowboys

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Some of the teams’ biggest names faltered in big ways on Saturday night. However, depth shined as the team won its second consecutive preseason game.

Cincinnati Bengals v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

After such a promising start to the 2018 season in the form of the Bengals’ preseason-opening win over the Bears, Cincinnati had a crash landing back to reality in Dallas. The first-team offense was a mess and mistakes plagued the rest of the units throughout the game.

Thankfully, the backups helped carry Cincinnati to a 21-13 win that featured a 21-3 run to finish the game after the starters went down 10-0. Though it’s hard to take huge stock into preseason games, this game didn’t instill the type of confidence that last Thursday did.

And while there is balance between the quantity of losers and winners this week, one has to note the profiles of the players in each category.


The rotational edge rushers: The combination of Sam Hubbard, Carl Lawson and Jordan Willis had a bunch of nice moments on Saturday. Hubbard, who has often kicked inside on third downs, made a play off of the edge in the form of a sack and forced fumble in the second quarter.

Also, shortly before the half, Lawson absolutely abused backup tackle, Cameron Fleming. Using a Reggie White-like club-and-lift move, he moved in and sacked Cooper Rush.

Willis was dominant against the Cowboys’ backups with a tackle for loss in addition to two sacks of Mike White. On the first one, he beat his man so badly that he had an opportunity to destroy White, but wisely laid up and had a gentle takedown, while racking up a sack.

Jonathan Brown: A 55-yard field goal from a Bengals place kicker?! SAY WHAT?!

Regardless, that was the case with Brown in the second quarter. Cincinnati’s offense was anemic throughout the entire evening, but they allowed Brown a big opportunity in the second quarter, while also booting kickoffs through the end zone. He converted and made an almost non-existent kicking competition at least a little more interesting.

Alex Erickson: The forgotten guy of the wide receiver group had an amazing night in his dual role. He had a couple of nice punt returns, giving hope that he’ll return to his 2016 form in that capacity.

A 28-yard tiptoe grab in the third quarter was one of the few highlights from the Bengals’ offense. While he doesn’t necessarily have the raw talent of other Bengals’ receivers, he is a chain-mover and should hang on to his roster spot again this year.

Tra Carson and Brian Hill: The pair of second-year backs had nice nights against the Cowboys. Hill finished with six carries for 24 yards and a touchdown as a grinder behind Joe Mixon, Giovani Bernard and Mark Walton.

Meanwhile, Hill had two carries for 12 yards and a receiving touchdown. He also added a 44-yard reception off of a screen pass in the fourth quarter.

Darius Phillips: He has an uphill climb to the final roster and/or playing time, but he flashed some special teams ability. The Bengals liked his knack for creating big plays, hence their drafting of him in the fifth round this year.

He’s had a bad camp, per Bengals beat reporters, but two great kickoff returns helped him greatly on Saturday. Phillips averaged 36 yards per kickoff return, with a long of 44.


Andy Dalton: The starters received a little more playing time than last week and the starting quarterback didn’t look the same. Dalton overthrew a wide open A.J. Green to miss out on a substantial gain, bringing about fan groans.

He also threw a near-pick in a check-down pass to Tyler Boyd (which he ended up coming up with) and then threw another inexplicable third-down pass to Tyler Kroft which was a handful of yards short of a first down.

Preston Brown: Aside from being nothing more than a chase-and-tackle player against the pass, Brown was victimized quite often in other facets. He missed a tackle on a screen pass to Rod Smith that set up a Dallas field goal early in the game, and then whiffed on Smith in the hole after shedding a La’El Collins block.

Smith galloped for 14 yards and set up the Cowboys for their second scoring drive in as many tries. Not a great look for one of the teams’ prized free agency pickups this offseason.

Tyler Boyd: Call Boyd’s appearance on this list both because of and in spite of his efforts. Starting with the former, a terrible fumble late in the second quarter just showed a lack of focus after a catch on a crossing route.

As for the latter, Boyd was rocked for a loss on an end-around, which was a microcosm of the team’s struggles on offense. He also had to fight for a reception of just three yards that was almost an interception.

Jeff Driskel: In what has been a pretty ugly battle for the job behind Dalton this summer, Driskel had a nice opportunity afforded to him on Saturday night. He came in after Dalton and struggled in the second quarter.

He attempted to float a ball to John Ross, but it was slightly under-thrown. Granted it took an amazing play by the Cowboys’ cornerback to pick the ball off, but it was just part and parcel of a Bengals offense that struggled mightily throughout the contest. Other batted balls and overthrown passes on third down were part of his repertoire.

Cedric Ogbuehi: Oy. Another poor performance by the former first round pick. In the second quarter, Ogbuehi had a terrible false start penalty at right tackle to help stall a drive.

In the third quarter, Ogbuehi almost hit the trifecta in one play against another first round choice in Taco Charlton. He not only allowed a sack of Driskel, but was flagged for holding. We hate to pile on the guy, but it’s just not getting any better.

Mark Walton: I love this kid’s potential and his roster spot should be safe, but he had a rough night for the second week in a row. Unfortunately, it’s is largely the fault of others—particularly the patchwork backup offensive line.

Going into the fourth quarter, Walton had three carries for minus-nine yards. He seems to rarely have holes, but many of his preseason carries have gone for negative yards.