The Cincinnati Bengals finally got the fast starts they were looking for from their first-team offense and defense, but neither unit could sustain the success.
The Washington Redskins rallied from an early 14-3 deficit to beat the Bengals 23-17 Sunday afternoon at FedExField in the third preseason game.
What was likely the final action for the Bengals starters began with the offense driving 87 yards in 15 plays to take a 7-0 lead on a Jeremy Hill 3-yard touchdown run.
“We wanted to score a touchdown on that first possession, and we did,” said quarterback Andy Dalton, who was 5 of 6 for 55 yards on the drive, including first-down completions on third and 13 and third and 11.
“It was a long drive, and we converted on some key third downs,” Dalton added. “We need to do more of that, but it was a good way to start the game.”
The Cincinnati defense began with three consecutive three-and-outs followed by a 62-yard interception return for a touchdown by linebacker Vontaze Burfict, who left the game a few plays later with a back injury.
Hill also left the game in the first half with an ankle injury after gaining 15 yards on five carries, while rookie tight end Mason Schreck (knee) left in the fourth quarter. Running back and special teams stalwart Cedric Peerman (elbow), who was making his preseason debut after dealing with a hamstring injury, exited in the second quarter.
Three other Bengals made their preseason debuts, including wide receiver and first-round pick John Ross and running back Giovani Bernard.
Ross had just one touch in the game, an 8-yard run on a jet sweep. He was targeted twice in the passing game but held without a catch. Bernard had four carries for 25 yards.
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Rookie running back Joe Mixon added eight rushes for 31 yards but lost a fumble to derail the second drive of the game.
“The offense had good tempo moving down the field, but we don’t want to put the ball on the ground,” Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said. “The defense did a good job with pressure, making some key stops.”
Rookies Jordan Willis and Carl Lawson continued their impressive preseasons, with each recording a sack. Willis’ forced a fumble that teammate DeShawn Williams recovered.
The Bengals led for most of the game, but on the first play of the fourth quarter Washington backup quarterback Colt McCoy hit Derek Carrier for a 9-yard touchdown to put the Redskins up 20-17.
Cincinnati back AJ McCarron had the team in position for a go-ahead score in the fourth quarter, but Washington safety Fish Smithson intercepted a third-down pass at the Redskins 3-yard line with 8:27 to go and returned it 63 yards to set up Dustin Hopkins’ third field goal of the game for the final 23-17 margin.
In the competition for the Cincinnati kicking job, incumbent Randy Bullock increased his edge by hitting from 53 while rookie fifth-round pick Jake Elliott missed from 45.
Bullock is 5 of 5 in the preseason, connecting from 54, 53, 49, 47 and 26 yards, while Elliott is 3 for 4 with shorter makes of 45, 39 and 32 yards.
Third-string quarterback Jeff Driskel drove the Bengals to a first-and-goal opportunity on the final drive, but the Washington defense held from there to seal the win.
The Bengals will wrap the preseason Thursday night at Indianapolis in a game in which none of the starters are expected to play.
Cincinnati Bengals vs. Indianapolis Colts
Where: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis
When: 7 p.m. Thursday
TV: Ch. 12, 22
Radio: 700-AM, 1530-AM, 102.7-FM, 104.7-FM