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8 observations, frustrations and takeaways from Bengals’ 27-26 preseason loss to Colts

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The Bengals just missed out on a sweep of the preseason against the Colts. Even so, there was a lot to like about Thursday night’s effort.

Indianapolis Colts v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Well, the Cincinnati Bengals were two points shy of completing the preseason sweep. Sure, the results of the summer games are largely meaningless, but a 4-0 start heading into the regular season would have felt nice after such a tumultuous offseason and two straight losing campaigns.

Nevertheless, there were a lot of takeaways from the Bengals’ 27-26 loss, as the team attempts to concoct the best possible roster for the 2018 season.

Offseason additions and messages seem to be working:

Jeff Driskel and Logan Woodside: Unfortunately for Matt Barkley, his evening was cut short from a knee injury suffered on a low hit. Driskel entered the game sooner than expected and shined with his backyard-style of play. He finished 14-of-20 for 116 yards and a touchdown against Indianapolis.

Woodside played the most he had all preseason and looked pretty sharp as well. He couldn’t engineer any touchdown drives, but netted the Bengals six points en route to a 9-of-15, 96-yard evening. It seems like he’s headed for the practice squad.

Josh Malone and Auden Tate: The second-year man out of Tennessee has taken some nice strides this offseason and looks to be a factor for the team’s offense in the regular season. He only had two catches, but made them both count—particularly his 28-yard touchdown grab in the final seconds before halftime.

After hauling in the game-winning touchdown against the Bears in the preseason opener, Tate was invisible in the subsequent two games. He received more time and had two catches for 33 yards—and that doesn’t count a near-touchdown catch.

Huge turnover disparity: The Bengals grabbed four turnovers from the Colts (three fumble recoveries and one interception), while not turning the ball over themselves. This says a few things about the squad.

First, Teryl Austin preaching about the creation of big plays is being heard. Second, if this wasn’t the anomaly of being a preseason finale, this is exactly the type of formula that wins tough games. And, finally, it shows that the Bengals were lucky, as one of their fumbles was recovered by Kermit Whitfield and Mason Schreck’s landed out of bounds (for the second week in a row).

Some backup linebackers: The trio of Malik Jefferson, Brandon Bell and Hardy Nickerson, Jr. was a solid bunch on Thursday night. Jefferson had seven total tackles and a pass defended, as he looked more comfortable with an increase in snaps.

Bell had a fumble recovery and two total tackles, while Nickerson had another fumble recovery and seven tackles. There’s not room for all three on the final roster this year, so with Jefferson being a lock, Bell and Nickerson are fighting for a spot vacated by Vontaze Burfict, as he serves a four-game suspension to start the year.

Other issues—both familiar and unfamiliar:

Cobi Hamilton’s revenge: Is there anything more Bengals than giving up a game-winning touchdown with less than two minutes to play? If not, then maybe throw in the fact that the play was made by a former member of the team. But, it’s the preseason, so, whatever.

Penalties: We always expect these finales to be a bit sloppy and the teams didn’t disappoint. Both squads had eight total penalties, with the Bengals giving up 75 yards from the infractions.

The injuries: Barkley’s knee injury seems to be significant enough to keep him off of the team’s roster, while Trayvon Henderson also suffered a gruesome knee injury after making a clutch interception.

Mark Walton, Tyrice Beverette and Cethan Carter all left the game with various ailments as well. They don’t seem to be as serious as those suffered by Barkley and Henderson, but it wasn’t fun to watch after the team avoided injuries throughout the rest of the preseason.

Kick returns: The longest kickoff return of the night for the Bengals was 16 yards by Brandon Wilson. On punts — when they weren’t fair-catching or letting them go — Cincinnati had one return for zero yards. Yuck.

The Colts’ 18-play drive in the first and second quarters: Talk about a tear-your-hair-out sequence of events. After taking a 7-0 lead, the Bengals were poised to have a chokehold on the contest.

But, the allowance of five conversions on third downs (including a touchdown pass) gave the game a completely different complexion. Get this: Cincinnati’s defense gave up 20 yards on a third-and-19, allowed the Colts to escape a first-and-28 after a penalty and then let up 16 yards on another third-and-10, as Indianapolis plodded into the end zone after 18 plays.

Bengals lose heartbreaker in 2018 preseason finale to Colts, 27, 26

Posted by Cincy Jungle on Thursday, August 30, 2018