The Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Rams concluded their respective preseasons just six months following the teams playing each other in Super Bowl LVI. The stakes are far lower than that for both franchises, but the players in this game probably don’t feel that way with their jobs on the line.
Cincinnati decided to sit their entire starting lineup for the preseason this year. This week they also sat most of their second team that didn’t need further evaluation. The most notable sits are rookies Daxton Hill and Cordell Volson, as the latter seems to have won the left guard battle against Jackson Carman, who played the entire game.
The Bengals started off their final preseason game with a respectable beginning to the game led by Brandon Allen. After one successful first down conversion, a Stanley Morgan third-down drop stalled the series. He made up for it the next drive by catching a beautifully timed 30-yard gain from Allen to setup first-and-goal. Allen took a sack on third down to set up an Evan McPherson field goal.
Neither side blew up offensively. That gave us an opportunity to see both Kevin Huber and Drue Chrisman punt. Huber pinned his at the 13-yard line, and Chrisman followed up with a 43-yard punt of his own.
The Rams got rolling and were inside the Bengals’ 10-yard line when safety Trayvon Henderson punched out the ball for a big defensive lineman to come away with it. A very timely turnover from Henderson, who had fallen down earlier in the drive that left his man open for a big gain.
When quarterback Jake Browning came in for Allen, he provided an offensive spark that ran out almost the last six minutes of the first half. It almost resulted in a touchdown pass to Thaddeus Moss, but the tight end was called for offensive pass interference. Instead, McPherson nailed his third field goal of the first half giving the Bengals a 9-0 lead.
The second half started off with a highlight from defensive lineman Zach Carter creating a fumble as he sacked the quarterback. The Rams did recover the fumble to punt it back to Cincinnati after Raymond Johnson III failed to pull off the scoop and score.
The defense forced yet another fumble. This time it was linebacker Tegray Scales punching out the ball from the ball carrier who was fighting for extra yards. It was a very opportunistic play from a young player who took away a scoring opportunity from Los Angeles to keep them scoreless on the night.
The Rams did eventually end their drought with quarterback Bryce Perkins broke containment and dove for the end zone. It wasn’t a great couple of plays for cornerback Delonte Hood who gave up a big reception along the sideline before not being able to keep Perkins out from pay dirt.
Browning was quick to drive Cincinnati back into scoring range after a great pass to Trayveon Williams. Browning then managed to get his touchdown by hitting Justin Rigg. He was able to convert several tough third downs on the drive to bring their lead back to nine. Wide receiver Kwamie Lassiter II also had a couple of key catches on the drive to help his case to make the team.
The Bengals pulled off the win over the Rams on the field. They also were able to more importantly avoid major injury this preseason that would impact their starting lineup to start the season. That was achieved by resting their starters for any actual stats, and we will have to see how that plays out against the Pittsburgh Steelers during Week 1, but availability is such a crucial part of this game, and Cincinnati is as healthy as you can be going into Week 1.