Fri, 22 Jan 2021

Bengals Roll Up Everything But Score In First Half

Cincinnati Bengals
23 Nov 2020, 20:58 GMT+10

Geoff Hobson

Wide receiver A.J. Green caught his first touchdown pass in more than two years while the Bengals rolled up 247 yards in the first half to take a 9-7 halftime lead Sunday at Washington's FedEx Field.

Bengals rookie quarterback Joe Burrow lit it up for 195 yards on 21 of 29 passing as they racked up 16 first downs. But they had just nine points because Burrow fumbled in the end zone on fourth down and Randy Bullock missed an extra point after hitting the right upright on a 34-yard field goal try.

But Bullock did hit a 53-yarder with 1:39 left in the half to go give the Bengals a 9-7 lead in a drive that displayed the running and catching of running back Giovani Bernard. On his 29th birthday, he had 37 yards catching and 23 yards rushing in the first half.

_The Bengals had a shot to wreak their two-minute havoc in the first when Washington quarterback Alex Smith had a pass batted in the air by the helmet of leaping end Margus Hunt and safety Jessie Bates III picked it off at about midfield with 18 seconds left.

Bullock's try for a 58-yard franchise record hit the right upright.

_Green got that touchdown on third down (the Bengals were 2-for-6 in the half after going 0-for-13 in Pittsburgh last week) from the five-yard line. Green got outside leverage on cornerback Ronald Darby and Burrow shot him a beauty with safety Kareem Curl chewing on his leg on a blitz.

It was Green's first TD since Oct. 28, 2018.

_After 18 minutes, the Bengals had 142 yards, Burrow was 13 of 117 for 119 yards and they had no points.

_The Bengals came in 14 of 16 on fourth down, but the magic didn't continue from the Washington 3 early in the second quarter.

Burrow got flushed out of the pocket and as he took off running, new right guard Quinton Spain was called for a hold. When Burrow tried to reach the ball over the goal line as he made a cut on a tackler, Washington defensive Chase Young raced down from the other end of the line and blew up Burrow with a shot that forced a fumble in the end zone.

Washington recovered in the end zone, but when Spain batted it away and Washington recovered in the end zone, it turned out that the hold negated a safety. Or the other way around because the Bengals had only one penalty in the half and it was right tackle Hakeem Adeniji's false start.

So a few plays after Burrow, the overall No. 1 pick in the draft, deked Young on a zone read for 10 yards, Young, the No. 2 pick, got him back.

_Burrow came out firing and completed nine of his 11 passes on the Bengals' first drive for a patient, methodical 68 yards in an encouraging 11-play drive that consumed nearly seven minutes.

He made a nice third-and-two throw over the linebackers to tight end Drew Sample on the right sideline to convert one third down and he got another when slot receiver Tyler Boyd made a leaping catch 11-yard catch on third-and-five after he spun away on outside leverage from cornerback Jimmy Moreland as the Bengals converted both out of the empty back-field set.

_Burrow did go for it all once on the drive from the Washington 39 when he took a shot at wide receiver Tee Higgins running past cornerback Ronald Darby down the middle of the field. Higgins had a step on him in the end zone, but Darby was able to knock it away.

Burrow tried it again on the second drive when he went play-action from the Washington 32 and he tried to hit Higgins in the back of the end zone but Darby again had good coverage and knocked it away.

_Bullock, who came in with just two misses in 21 field-goal tries, hit the right upright on a 34-yarder to deflate that first drive. Then he missed an extra point

_The Bengals defense got some big third-down plays in the first half. One series after cornerback William Jackson III let wide receiver Terry McLaurin get inside him for 42 yards to set up the Washington touchdown, Jackson went up in the air and knocked away a long one for McLaurin.

On the next third down, a third-and-seven, slot cornerback Mackensie Alexander came up on a short pass to drop wide receiver Cam Sims a yard shy of the first down.

And on that first drive on the third snap of the game, on third-and-two Bengals defensive end Carl Lawson, who banged on the door all day in Pittsburgh last week with six quarterback hits, broke it down with a sack of Smith.

_The Bengals went with their third different offensive line in as many weeks Sunday when they walked out an entirely different new right side against Washington's front flush with first-round picks as rookie Hakeem Adeniji made his first start at right tackle and Quinton Spain made his first Bengals' start at right guard.

It continued Spain's remarkable Bengals career that isn't even a month old yet. It was his second straight start for them at a different position after making his first NFL start at right tackle in last week's game in Pittsburgh and three weeks after making his Bengals debut at left guard in the win over Tennessee.

Spain, 29, a six-year veteran making his 69th NFL start in Washington, arrived at Paul Brown Stadium on Oct. 30 after getting cut by Bills and undergoing nearly a week of COVID testing. Despite being handed the playbook just 48 hours before, Spain played every series but the first with 62 snaps against the Titans in a game the Bengals rushed for 118 yards and quarterback Joe Burrow didn't get hit or sacked.

Starting right guard Alex Redmond came into the game as questionable after hurting a bicep last week. Starting right tackle Bobby Hart was active after practicing full the last two days after missing the two previous games with a knee injury. But head coach Zac Taylor appeared to do in Washington what he did last week in Pittsburgh when he started Adeniji at left tackle in place of starter Jonah Williams and had Williams active in case of emergency.

Adeniji, a sixth-round pick out of Kansas, impressed with his first two NFL starts on the left side. When the dust cleared after he went against such Pro Bowl rushers as Tennessee's Jadeveon Clowney and Pittsburgh's Bud Dupree, he had allowed no sacks and just one hit of Burrow on 88 passes, according to Pro Football Focus.

Adeniji looks to be the Bengals' most versatile rookie offensive lineman since Andrew Whitworth made 10 starts at left tackle and two at left guard in 2006. Adeniji started every game at Kansas, most of them at left tackle. He did play a little right tackle early in his career in Lawrence and while he has been practicing on both sides since he arrived in Cincinnati he said this week he's still getting used to the right side.

He actually took reps to start at right tackle last week before they decided to give Williams another week to rest.

"I'm improving every day the more and more reps that I get," Adeniji said before Thursday's practice. "I definitely feel confident in my ability to step out there and perform well so that's the most important thing."

The assignments for Spain and Adeniji were formidable. Spain lined up against two first-round tackles in in Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen while Adeniji figured at some point to face a trio of first-round edge rushers in Chase Young, Montez Sweat and Ryan Kerrigan with a combined 13 sacks.

It's not the first time in recent years that the Bengals have needed the versatility they seek in Spain. Between Oct, 28-Dec. 12, 2018, center Trey Hopkins started every game he played, one at center, one at left guard and one at right guard.

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