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7 winners and 6 losers from Bengals’ win over Redskins

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It began as an ugly affair for both teams, but there were some positive takeaways for the Bengals in their second contest of the preseason.

NFL: Preseason-Cincinnati Bengals at Washington Redskins Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The preseason isn’t always about wins and losses, but in the case of a young team finding itself, getting a road win can be a huge confidence-booster. In Cincinnati’s 23-13 win over the Redskins, there were big plays in both the positive and the negative, prompting more questions than answers as to the outlook of the 2019 Bengals.

Here are the biggest winners and losers of the team’s Thursday night win.

Winners

The returners: After suffering two muffed punts in the preseason opener, Zac Taylor showed continued confidence in Phillips, who had two great kickoff returns to start the game. Phillips had gallops of 34 and 31 yards to open the contest, respectively.

Alex Erickson also showed his usual preseason magic, taking a fourth quarter punt 75 yards to the house to seal the team’s win. It was an up-and-down night from the special teams unit, but these two guys had some great plays.

Ryan Finley: The rookie quarterback apparently just needs to play in actual games and not practices. After taking over for Andy Dalton, Finley started the game 9-of-9 with a touchdown pass to Drew Sample on his first drive.

Finley continued to get a huge workload and took advantage. Late in the third quarter, he threw his second touchdown pass to Auden Tate, finishing 20-of-26 for 150 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions.

Through just two preseason games, Finley appears to have his timing down pat in this system. Oddly enough, most timing passers get rattled by pressure, but we saw the rookie avoid the rush at times to complete passes with ease.

The backup tight ends: C.J. Uzomah had a miserable day and Tyler Eifert was targeted just once, but guys like Mason Schreck and Drew Sample had nice moments. Schreck was seen breaking tackles en route to a great 18-yard reception, while the rookie had a touchdown grab.

Kerry Wynn: It was a nice evening for the reserve defensive end, who logged a sack and a fumble recovery against the Redskins. The latter play ended up leading to a tying score by Tate.

Auden Tate: The second-year receiver didn’t have many yards, but showed off his signature catching radius and red zone ability. He finished the evening with just 16 yards on four catches, but had the big touchdown catch.

Damion Willis: The undrafted rookie free agent continued his impressive summer with a team-lead in receiving categories. He had the co-lead with five receptions (on five targets), but led the team by himself with 59 yards.

Zac Taylor: The team won for the first time under Taylor, so he’s a winner in the truest sense of the word. So, congratulations to coach Taylor for his first official win as an NFL head coach. Still...more on this later.

Losers

C.J. Uzomah: The tight end who freshly-inked a new deal in free agency had a pretty awful start to the contest. On a predictable play-call, he netted only one yard on a catch, while committing two holding penalties on the initial series.

The final one created a third-and-long, wherein Dalton threw a pick-six. He had another false start penalty on the third series to cap off a miserable night.

Bengals’ offensive line: Name an issue. An inability to keep the defenders’ hands at bay to knock down passes? Check. A penalty apiece for both starters on the right side of the line within the first two series? Check.

How about their lack of push to establish the run game they so desperately want to get going? Throw in a holding call against Cordy Glenn and most questioned unit on the team is doing nothing to prove itself as being better than advertised.

Andy Dalton: Part of it has to do with the line play in front of him, but Dalton hasn’t had the return from 2018 I.R. that many envisioned. After missing on an easy, deep touchdown last week, Dalton followed that up with a tipped pick-six in the red zone on the team’s first possession.

No. 14 looked a little skittish at times because of pressure, but he also seemed to sidearm some throws for inexplicable reasons. He finished just 5-of-9 for 36 yards and the pick-six.

The coaching staff: Yes, the Bengals are trotting out a lot of young, inexperienced players at the moment, and yes, it’s early. But, aside from the predictable physical limitations of certain parts of the roster, mental mistakes were prevalent.

Furthermore, gaffes were made by all three phases (dropped interception, penalties, thrown pick-six, missed extra point and field goal), signaling potential troubles ahead. The team had 11 penalties against the Chiefs on Saturday and matched that total on Thursday.

We won’t mention another certain Bengals head coach who was hired at a young age, but early points of this game had the stink of the early 1990s—especially when the “ones” were out there. Good thing it’s just the preseason and the Bengals notched a win.

Billy Price: The 2018 first-round pick has seemingly found himself in Taylor’s doghouse. After an inconsistent preseason opener, Price was demoted to second-team center in practice. That continued on into this game, where Price played in the middle with the backup unit. The good news for Price is that the first-team unit didn’t do very well, so things are still probably unsettled, in terms of a starting lineup on the line.

Anyone who suffered through watching the first quarter: Whether it was Uzomah’s three aforementioned penalties, the numerous others against the Redskins’ defense, or the egregious pick-six by Dalton, this was a painful start to a game.

Washington wasn’t immune to issues, as their kicker missed an extra point and field goal attempt. To put things into perspective, with about 9:38 taken off of the game clock, 12 penalties had already been called between the two clubs.

This continued to be a theme throughout the entire game, as the two teams combined for over 20 penalties throughout the game.