Better late than never for the Bengals back-up offense.
Chase Brown scored on three-yard bulldozer run up the middle, just breaking the plane of the goal line with 50 seconds left in the fourth quarter to give the Bengals a late 13-10 lead over the Falcons. It was Cincinnati’s first offensive touchdown in two preseason games.
— Cincinnati Bengals (@Bengals) August 19, 2023
But former Bengals seventh-round pick Logan Woodside led the Falcons down the field with two big pass completions, and the Falcons escaped with a 13-13 tie when Younghoe Koo split the uprights from 45 yards with two seconds left Friday night at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
The Bengals are 0-1-1 while the Falcons stand 1-0-1 in two preseason games.
The Bengals finish the preseason next Saturday in Landover, Md. against the Washington Commanders at 6 p.m. ET.
Jake Browning bounced back from a late fourth-quarter interception to lead the Bengals on a eight-play, 80-yard touchdown drive, completing all five pass attempts for 47 yards and scrambling twice for 34 yards.
The first-team defense got its chance to shine and made a big play to stop a drive, with the help of five penalties by the Falcons on the opening drive.
Mike Hilton tipped a pass at the Bengals 4-yard line and Joseph Ossai picked off the Desmond Ridder red zone pass after 10 minutes with the ball to open the game.
— Cincinnati Bengals (@Bengals) August 18, 2023
The backup quarterback situation failed to clarify itself until Browning used his legs and arms to give the Bengals a late lead. Browning finished 16-of-22 for 140 yards with another interception. Trevor Siemian was 7-of-14 in his first-half reps for 62 yards.
Evan McPherson continues to be Cincinnati’s only offensive weapon in the preseason. The kicker was good from 50 and 31 yards but the quarterback play continues to be struggle to finish drives with a touchdown. Cincinnati didn’t score a touchdown until its ninth and final drive.
Of course, the Bengals are not playing their regulars on offense, resting everyone on the offense line with the exception of right tackle Jonah Williams on the first offensive series Friday night. All of the starting receivers sat this one out (Higgins, Chase, Boyd), as did the injured quarterback Joe Burrow, who did not travel to Atlanta.
Also sitting out were tight end Irv Smith Jr. and running backs Joe Mixon and Trayveon Williams.
On defense, 10 of 11 of the projected starters opened on a long 15-play drive to open the game. Chido Awuzie continues to wait to get into full 11-on-11 work in practice while rookie first-rounder Myles Murphy missed practice Wednesday with an illness and stayed home and did not make the trip.
— Cincinnati Bengals (@Bengals) August 19, 2023
Here are some of the biggest takeaways and some of the biggest moments:
The Bengals first-team defense (except Awuzie) spent nearly 10 minutes on the field to start the game. Pretty ideal for Zac Taylor because he got them 15 snaps (10 counted) and the first team only needed one drive. Mike Hilton stepped up in man coverage and forced a pass for Scott Miller with Ossai coming over to pick it out of the air.
“Yeah, it was great experience for them to have to sustain a long drive and find a way out of it, which is what they did,” Zac Taylor said postgame. “It’s what they tend to do. So I think that was good for them, that the field game like conditions against starting offense and have their back into our bit and find a way to make a play.”
That’s precisely what Lou Anarumo, who celebrated his 57th birthday Friday, wants to see from his defense in the red zone and why he was in a good mood walking off the field at halftime after an interview with Bengals TV reporter Marisa Contipelli.
Cam Taylor-Britt showed up all over the place on the opening drive. He closed on the first tackle of the night, bringing down Kyle Pitts in open space, closing out on another tackle before whiffing on the sideline. But overall, CTB had a great showing in space, finishing tackles and bringing ball carriers to the ground. He was also solid in coverage.
Jake Browning jumped ahead of Trevor Siemian in the backup quarterback battle with his performance at the end of the game. What made it all the more interesting is that he had to overcome what could’ve been a killer interception deep in Bengals territory with under six minutes left. He threw against his body after appearing to be in between throwing and running with the ball. He corrected the indecisiveness on the next drive, scrambling with the ball for 34 yards and going 6-for-6 in putting the Bengals ahead. Siemian failed to get the Bengals into the red zone in five tries while Browning reached the red zone three times, with drives of 47, 64 and 80 yards.
“I mean it was important because we were losing too, but I think it is good to show the pick was a bad decision, just got too aggressive but I think it’s good to put on tape that I will bounce back, and I’ll have a short memory on it,” Browning said. “That’s always good for a quarterback so I would say, more importantly we were losing so I had to go score.
All signs from Friday indicate that Browning may have moved past Siemian for the time being but Browning knows there’s another week of practice and a game next Saturday in Washington.
“I don’t know. Just trying to play well. That’s someone else’s decision and not in my hands, I’m just trying to play well and I’m getting a lot of tape in practice and in the game and trying to make the most out of that,” Browning said. “We’re building on the good stuff and correcting some of the stuff I can get better at.”
It was a remarkably sloppy game: While seven penalties for 55 yards is not something that will make Taylor thrilled after harping on it this week, at least he’s not Arthur Smith. The Falcons head coach suffered through his team’s mind-boggling 13 penalties for 102 yards.
Chase Brown and Chris Evans both looked very good again: The running back roster is going to be a fascinating call for the Bengals. Brown is a rookie and his spot is all but guaranteed. He’ll be on the roster. He had the go-ahead three-yard TD run late and is showing a forceful straight ahead running style. There might have been opportunities where one cut could’ve yielded more explosive plays but he’s running with great authority. Chris Evans had a 35-yard kickoff return after Atlanta’s first field goal. He also had a pair of 10-yard receptions. He was productive and shined on special teams.
The defensive line looks very, very deep. From first team through the third unit, everyone moved the pocket and filled the run fits reasonably well. The edges got great push in the pocket. Cam Sample, Zach Carter and Owen Carney all had impressive moments on Friday. Myles Murphy did not play in this game and didn’t make the trip because of illness. The Bengals had four sacks Friday night as all three levels produced.
Yoshi time: The Bengals have targeted Andrei Iosivas 20 times in two games, with the rookie out of Princeton catching nine passes. Friday he had five catches for 44 yards as he is becoming a go-to on the sideline.
DJ Turner had his shot with Drake London, who burned him for a spectacular back shoulder catch on the opening drive. Turner had perfect positioning but sometimes the receiver makes an incredible play.
— Matt Lombardo 🏈 (@MattLombardoNFL) August 19, 2023
Jordan Battle will learn not to taunt. He made a very silly play that cost the Bengals a first-and-goal in the second quarter and led to Atlanta’s first points. Scott Miller made a catch with DJ Turner in coverage in the end zone but Miller was well out of bounds. That didn’t keep Battle from coming over and pointing in his face afterward. Maybe it’s a soft penalty but it was utterly unnecessary and cost the Bengals 12 valuable yards in the red zone.
DJ Ivey saves the game: The Falcons were already in game-tying range when Logan Woodside threw up a why-not ball to Xavier Malone. Ivey was in perfect position to deny the pass and knock it away to force the Falcons to settle for the tie.
Bengals rookie DJ Ivey flashing his recovery speed and ability to find the ball in phase on this end zone PBU.
The seventh-round pick out of Miami ensured a tie by making this play. pic.twitter.com/0FrFSwYfAA
— Seven Rounds in Heaven (@7RoundsInHeaven) August 19, 2023