The Bengals finally put together a good offensive game plan, but it all came unravelled after three straight fumbles. The turnovers cost the Bengals greatly, and the Cowboys won 30-7.
Andy Dalton started for the Cowboys, playing in Paul Brown Stadium as a visitor for the first time. Dalton went 16 for 23 with 185 yards and two touchdowns, which was one of his better games of the season.
Brandon Allen set a new career highs in completions and completion percentage in a single game, and a new season high in passing yards and passer rating. For the first time in his career, he completed 20+ passes and he also took no sacks. On the day, Allen went 27 for 36, 217 yards, one touchdown, and no interceptions. If not for three lost fumbles, Allen may have been able to lead the Bengals to victory.
Allen couldn’t finish the game with due to an ankle injury. That makes the second week in a row Ryan Finley has had to relieve Allen.
A.J. Green also had his first reception in three weeks, and then some. Green ended the day with six catches on seven targets, with 62 yards and a touchdown. He made some very difficult catches, which is what we were used to seeing from him for so many years.
Andy Dalton led the offense to break the deadlock on his first drive back in Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals received the opening kickoff, but Giovani Bernard broke the longest active streak in the NFL of attempts without a fumble. Bernard coughed up the ball for the first time in 830 rushing attempts, giving the Cowboys easy possession. But Margus Hunt and Sam Hubbard combined for the Bengals’ first sack in three games and kept the Cowboys to a field goal attempt. Greg Zuerlein made the 34-yard kick, and the Cowboys had a 3-0 lead with 11:02 remaining in the opening quarter.
The Bengals’ game plan at the beginning was pretty simple: give Allen short, easy completions. Allen went five-for-five with 50 yards, with no completions over ten yards. But Trayveon Williams fumbled the ball, which Aldon Smith scooped up for the Cowboys and returned it 78 yards to the house. Zuerlein kicked the extra point, and the Cowboys were up 10-0 with 6:15.
This was the first time two Bengals running backs fumbled in the same game since 1994.
Samaje Perine was the third running back used in as many drives for the Bengals. He ran the ball five times for 12 yards and, most importantly, no fumbles. The Bengals were not done with their ball security problems, however, after a fumble on a fourth down attempt from Alex Erickson.
The Bengals became the first team in the NFL since the Patriots in 2013 to lose fumbles on their first three possessions.
In the first quarter, the Bengals won the time of possession battle with 11:40 minutes of possession. The Bengals also out-gained the Cowboys with 119 yards to 16. But due to three fumbles, the Bengals were down 10-0 despite having good rhythm on offense.
Dalton and Amari Cooper were in sync, as the two connected twice on third downs for 33 yards, moving the chains both times. In total, Dalton was three-for-three for 47 yards on third downs on the first drive of the second quarter. Dalton found Cooper for the final play of the drive, a touchdown receptions of 11 yards. The extra point capped a drive that covered 88 yards on 15 plays in 8:32. The Cowboys led 17-0 with 6:38 left before halftime.
The Bengals made one last push to score, and somehow kept possession of the ball. Allen went to A.J. Green four times on the drive for three receptions and 25 yards. The Bengals finally got on the scoreboard after a five-yard touchdown to Green with eight second left in the half. Austin Siebert came in for the extra point, and made his first kick in a Bengals’ uniform to get the score to 17-7 at halftime.
Touchdown!!— Josh Kirkendall (@Josh_Kirkendall) December 13, 2020
Bengals cut into the Cowboys lead, 17-7 with eight seconds remaining in the first half. pic.twitter.com/OPBxjMX7i3
The Bengals gained a total of 196 yards in the first half, and went seven for eight on third downs. Everything seemed to finally be going right for this offense, except for the fumbles.
A favorable kick return set up the Cowboys with great starting field position to open the second half. Dalton was two for four with 25 yards, but the Cowboys had to settle for a field goal. With 11:38 to go in the third quarter, the Cowboys led 20-7.
The Bengals’ second-half struggles continued, and the offense lagged until partway through the fourth quarter. Allen scrambled and injured his ankle, but stayed in the game. Despite barely being able to walk, Allen led the team to the red zone. But due to his ankle injury, Allen couldn’t drive off of his back foot, which effected his accuracy and his throwing power. The Bengals went for it on fourth down from the 10 yard-line, but Allen sailed the ball out the back of the end zone with seven-and-a-half minutes to go in the game.
After that, Ryan Finley replaced Allen under center, and promptly went four-and-out. Zuerlein kicked a 34-yard field goal with 3:20 left in the game, and Dalton got in one more touchdown pass to Tony Pollard. The Cowboys moved ahead 30-7 with 1:55 remaining in the game.
The score would hold, and the Bengals would fall to 2-10-1. The Bengals will host the Steelers in Week 15 for Monday Night Football.