Cincy opened the 2017 preseason with a 23-12 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Friday night. It was a welcome sight to see the Bengals back on the field, and while the team never truly pulled away from the visiting Bucs, they didn’t disappoint either.
Quarterback Andy Dalton and the offense were Merlot-smooth on the first drive until the last play. Dalton completed four of five passes for 38 yards and AJ Green had two receptions for 21 yards. Granted, the drive ended when Dalton threw an interception to Vernon Hargreaves III at the 1-yard line, but it was Cincinnati’s only turnover of the game.
Vontaze Burfict is in his contract year, and he’s already playing like it. He notched two tackles and looked super quick. The defense as a whole allowed 330 yards and one first-half touchdown. But there was no glaring weakness and no big injuries. All in all, it’s reason to get excited about the things to come in 2017.
Cincinnati Bengals’ Player of the Game
This one may surprise you – the kickers. Randy Bullock (field goals of 54 and 49 yards) and fifth-round draft pick Jake Elliott (45) showed plenty of leg strength and accuracy. Even better, there were no misses. If last night’s refs were waving their arms side to side on those field goals – which happened waaaaay too much last year – then the game gets a lot tighter and the players play that way. Which is not what you want when you’re down by a score at the two-minute warning.
What This Means Going Forward
Don’t get us wrong … there were some causes for concern last night. Andy Dalton threw an interception at the 1-yard line on the opening drive. The offense didn’t score a TD until the third quarter, when the first stringers were already on the sidelines talking about which clubs they would hit after the game. The D gave up several third-down conversions.
But we’re happy. Like, cue-the-Pharrell-Williams-song-and-get-some-Minions-dancing happy.
The offense moved well on its first possession before Dalton’s pick. Rookie running back Joe Mixon ran six times for 31 yards and caught an 11-yard pass, showing that he’ll give the backfield a boost. The offensive line gave Dalton enough time to find his receivers. Backup quarterback Jeff Driskel went 8-9 for 97 yards with a touchdown pass and scrambled for an 18-yard score. Josh Malone, the third-round pick out of Tennessee, also nabbed a nifty catch in the back of the end zone in the fourth quarter.
The Cincinnati Bengals also did not look short for defensive ends. Carl Lawson and Jordan Willis each had two QB pressures. Willis also collected his first sack. Free agent signee Chris Smith (from the Jaguars) was disruptive in the second half. Adam Jones, who is suspended for the season opener because of his January 3rd arrest, broke up two red-zone passes that forced Tampa to settle for a field goal in the 1st quarter.
Next up – Saturday, August 19th vs the Kansas City Chiefs. We can hardly wait.