ARLINGTON, TEXAS — After solid victories in the first two preseason games, the Bengals looked like they were roaring along as they went into Saturday night’s contest against Dallas in what is commonly known as the dress rehearsal game.
Instead, the Bengals put on a display that brought their roar down to a meow. Maybe, the DJ at AT&T Stadium was on to something when they played the Meow Mix theme as the Bengals came on the field before the game.
The 24-18 loss to the Cowboys also reinforced an old equation – when you commit four turnovers and your defense can’t get off the field on third down, you aren’t going to win many games.
“Now, we can quit having all that smoke puffed up our butts and we can get to work,” coach Marvin Lewis said after the game. “There were some bright spots during the game. We did some things well but not enough, long enough.”
Two of the turnovers were committed by the first team offense. Marvin Jones fumbled deep in Dallas territory on the opening drive and Andy Dalton threw his first interception of the preseason on a deep ball intended for Mohamed Sanu.
Dalton and the first unit were in for 28 plays (16 pass, 12 run). He finished 12 of 16 for 113 yards and a subpar passer rating of 68.0. The running game generated only 44 yards with 30 of that coming on the third-quarter drive that led to a Quinn Sharp 28-yard field goal. The first team was 0 for 2 scoring touchdowns in the red zone and their lone points came courtesy of a Quinn Sharp 28-yard field goal on their last series of the night.
“The fact we hurt ourselves is the biggest thing,” Dalton said. “You can look at all the bad but there are still some good stuff mixed in there. We did move the ball well, but didn’t get the points to show for it.”
Defensively, the Bengals (2-1) forced only two three-and-outs in 10 possessions. The Cowboys (2-2) were 9 of 16 converting third downs and all three of their touchdown passes came on third down – two by Tony Romo and one by Kyle Orton.
Dallas ran 75 plays and ended up having the ball for 39 minutes, 31 seconds.
“I don’t know if it was a lack of focus for us. We had some good plays, but on third down we just couldn’t get them off the field,” linebacker Vontaze Burfict said.
Added Lewis: “We’ve got to get to work and get our guys wind going to get ready for the opener. I thought it was a positive for the defense as they had to stay out there for a couple of long drives. Hopefully those are good opportunities for our defensive players to blow their pipes out pretty good.”
Tony Romo was 13 of 18 for 137 yards and two touchdowns in a half of work while Dez Bryant (6 receptions, 54 yards) and Miles Austin (4 receptions, 59 yards) each had a touchdown.
On the opening drive, Dalton and the offense looked like they were going to pick up from where they left off in the Tennessee game. Dalton completed his first six passes for 56 yards and got A.J. Green quickly involved on the second play with a 9-yard completion on a slant pass. Green finished with 3 receptions for 42 yards.
The drive ended without points though when Brandon Carr forced Marvin Jones to fumble after a 14-yard completion to the Dallas 4. It was the Bengals’ third lost fumble of the preseason.
On the ensuing drive, Dallas moved the ball to their own 30 when the Bengals got their second punt return touchdown of the preseason, this one by Brandon Tate.
Tate’s 75-yard punt return came courtesy of something that you only get at AT&T Stadium. On Chris Jones’ first punt he hit the giant scoreboard that hangs above the field, which brought about a rekick.
“(Special Teams Coordinator) Darrin (Simmons) always tells us that nothing good happens for the punt team on a re-kick, and we made them pay,” Tate said. “I give all the credit to the other 10 guys out there with me. Everybody blocked it perfectly, and all I had to do was find the hole and shoot through it. Nobody really had a good shot at me.”
After that, Dallas started to get things in gear. The Cowboys went on a 12-play, 87-yard drive which culminated in Romo’s first touchdown pass of the preseason, a 5-yarder to Bryant, who dominated Dre Kirkpatrick on the drive. Romo was 6 of 6 on the drive and Bryant had 5 receptions for 53 yards.
Dallas would take the lead late in the first half when Austin got past Taylor Mays in coverage and caught it in the back of the end zone. In the second quarter Romo was 8 of 13 for 98 yards and two touchdowns and the Cowboys were 4 of 6 on third-down conversions.
After Sharp’s field goal, Orton came on for Dallas and led a 14-play, 86-yard drive that culminated in a 7-yard touchdown pass to DeMarco Murray where there were a litany of missed tackles.
Josh Johnson came on midway through the third quarter and led the Bengals to a touchdown midway through the fourth quarter, a 4-yard completion to Cobi Hamilton that was the final play of a 14-play, 60-yard drive. Ryan Whalen caught a two-point conversion from Johnson to bring the Bengals within a field goal. Hamilton atoned after he turned the ball over in the third quarter on a fumble after running a reverse for a 18-yard gain.
Dan Bailey added a 26-yard field goal to put the margin up to six with 52 seconds remaining. After a Dane Sanzenbacher return gave the Bengals good field position, they drove the ball to the Dallas 49 before Johnson was picked off by Xavier Brewer. Johnson was hit by Landon Cohen as he threw the ball.
Courtesy: Joe Reedy | Bengals beat writer | Cincinnati Enquirer
POSTGAME VIDEO LINKS FROM CINCINNATI:
POSTGAME SCOUTING REPORT: Mackenzy Bernadeau, Tyron Smith, and rookie Travis Frederick were outstanding
Some thoughts from the radio booth at AT&T Stadium:
I am looking forward to getting back to Valley Ranch on Sunday and taking a look at this game film from Saturday night for a couple of different reasons. I am interested to see if Doug Free was better at guard in the game or did he struggle to the point that this experiment proved that he just needs to stay at right tackle.
I do know from my seat that Mackenzy Bernadeau and Tyron Smith were outstanding on the left side. There were plenty of plays where Smith, Bernadeau and rookie Travis Frederick did a great job of getting the down linemen for the Bengals turned at the point, which created lanes or cut them off so that the ball could work backside. Where this offensive line had success was in its ability to get hats on hats controlling the front. It was an impressive showing for the left side of the line, despite having just started working together on Monday. With this kind of play, it might be something these coaches would like to consider going forward, moving Ronald Leary to the right side.
As a whole, the offense was able to out-tough a defense that prides itself on being a physical one. Whether it was point-of-attack blocking by the line or the wide receivers on the edge, I really thought that they took the fight to the Bengals. These backs drove the ball hard front-side but when they saw the opportunity to cut it back, they made decisive cuts and finished the runs.
As the game wore on, in the broadcast booth, Brad Sham, Marc Colombo and I were wondering why DeMarco Murray was in the game in the second half after seeing action in the first. But what we learned from head coach Jason Garrett after the game was that Murray put the ball on the ground in the first quarter and he wanted to remind Murray how important it was for him to protect their ball. When Murray returned to the lineup, it was clear that Garrett’s message did not fall on deaf ears.
Garrett and this staff have run a tough camp. They have had physical practices and tonight their work paid off against a Bengals club that is not use to being knocked around the way they were.
Courtesy: Bryan Broaddus | Football Analyst/Scout
ARLINGTON, Texas – As his defense continues to force turnovers, Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett has to hope he got his message across about committing them.
Garrett created one of the dominant storylines of Saturday nights’ 24-18 win against Cincinnati when he benched running back DeMarco Murray for fumbling during the Cowboys’ second possession of the night.
“We took DeMarco out in the first half because he put the ball down,” Garrett said. “So we gave Phillip Tanner the chance to play with the ones in the first half.”
It was a nightmare start for Murray, who was slated to see his biggest chunk of playing time this preseason. He had three carries for just five yards when he lost a fumble – which was eventually recovered by right tackle Jermey Parnell – in the first quarter.
When Murray was yanked for Tanner, he had just four carries for six yards.
“I don’t know why De Mo got benched, you know, but we’re a real close family. So when they said another guy go in, that’s what I was going to do,” Tanner said. “De Mo is really supportive, you know, he’s my guy. Everything that I was able to do out there tonight I give all credit to him.”
Murray didn’t speak to reporters, so it’s uncertain to know how he felt as Tanner rumbled for 39 yards on 14 carries to finish out the first half. But whatever his opinion was on the benching, he put it into a torrid third quarter.
Murray lined up behind second-string quarterback Kyle Orton and the starting offensive line after halftime, and he quickly atoned for his problems. He carried eight times on the opening drive of the third quarter, including four in a row to start the possession, tallying 45 yards.
He capped off his return when he evaded three different tacklers en route to a seven-yard touchdown reception from Orton.
“There is no question that we had a little in-house resolve about what we would do if we should turn the ball over, and I think he came back with that resolve,” said Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones. “I still think he had an attitude after he finished that third quarter. I think he still had an attitude when he hid over there, but I think Jason’s making a point.”
Tanner wasn’t the only one who wasn’t sure why Murray left the field. Wide receiver Dez Bryant didn’t know until after the game why Murray had been replaced, but he wasn’t surprised at the response.
“DeMarco is a great back, and he always has that chip on his shoulder. That’s what makes him who he is,” he said.
Murray finished the night with 12 carries for 51 yards – the best average on the team – and two receptions for 14 yards and the touchdown.
It appears as though the message was received, much to Garrett’s satisfaction.
“I thought he did a good job. He’s a pro, and he’s a damn good football player,” Garrett said. “You can’t let not taking care of the football when you’re a running back diminish you as a player. And he’s just not going to do that – he’s not going to put the ball on the ground. I thought he responded well to it.”
ARLINGTON, Texas – Tony Romo got sacked on the first play of the game Saturday, but it wasn’t a sign of things to come.
Romo finished Saturday’s game 13-of-18 with 137 passing yards and two touchdowns, one each to Dez Bryant and Miles Austin, behind an offensive line that featured Doug Free at right guard and Jermey Parnell at right tackle.
“We won’t know until we look at the tape, but (Free)’s been doing a really good job there and he’s a really smart player,” Romo said via a conference call after the game. “Not everybody can make an adjustment like that, especially not in really one week. I think it’s a testament to Doug’s ability to play both those positions. Not unlike what I said about the wide receivers, the flexibility that he gives us sometimes is really, really a big deal to have a guy who can do multiple positions. I think he did a real good job.”
The offensive line had its occasional struggles, but for the most part managed to give Romo enough time and opened enough running lanes for the offense to rush for 154 yards. Romo said after the first sack of the game, the offense really got going.
“I think you’re always going to run the ball if you’re running the ball successfully,” Romo said. “More than anything, this game is about getting in the end zone. We all want it to be 10 runs and six passes – that’s ideal for everything – but that’s not always realistic.”
Romo spread the ball to his top wide outs throughout the day, finding Bryant for six catches, 54 yards and a touchdown and Austin for four catches, 59 yards and a touchdown. Both players scored their respective touchdowns in the second quarter, with Bryant securing a jump ball to cap a five-catch drive.
All four of Austin’s receptions came on third down, including his 12-yard touchdown catch in the back of the end zone to give the Cowboys a seven-point lead at the end of the second quarter.
“He did great,” Romo said. “I said it in training camp, Miles had a great training camp this year. He’s really got some juice to him. He’s been doing that the entire training camp. I’ve been saying this over and over again, but we’ve got to keep doing what we’re doing in training camp and it’s carried over to the preseason games.”
Romo also credited the offensive line for giving him time to operate and find Austin in the back of the end zone. He said it’s been a little bit since he’s had that kind of time.
“When you’re able to have that kind of time, you can do a lot of things as a quarterback – move a lot of different people a lot of different ways,” Romo said. “That’s a testament to the guys up front giving me that kind of time. That play doesn’t happen over time in the past, per se, I guess you could say.”
The Cowboys’ starting quarterback said it can be tough to recover if the offense struggles through the whole preseason, and Saturday’s dress rehearsal performance has the starters on the right track as they prepare for the opener against the Giants. He said his thought process will turn to the Sept. 8 opener Saturday night or Sunday morning.
“I’ve sprinkled in a little bit, but now I’m going to get real tightened up as far as a little more situational than an overview,” Romo said. “I think the team will probably wait until the middle of the week, but more than anything my stuff will start here this weekend.”
Dallas Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones talks to the media following the 2013 Cowboys preseason win over the Bengals. (Duration – 3:45)
- Thoughts and planned strategy regarding the preseason Special Teams units
- Parnell/Free right tackle experiment
- DeMarco Murray benching by Jason Garrett
- Tanner’s effort and inspirational value to other backs
- Randle cuts and instincts
- Postgame interview ends, short.
POSTGAME VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS – Cincinnati Bengals vs. Dallas Cowboys
Video | No Audio
ARLINGTON, Texas – Good luck finding the end zone on the Dallas Cowboys’ starting defense.
It may just be the preseason, but the Dallas coaches’ insistence on creating turnovers and the bend but don’t break mentality appear to be in full effect, as the Cowboys’ first-team defense went its fourth straight preseason game keeping its opponent out of the end zone in Saturday’s 24-18 dress rehearsal win against the Bengals.
“We saw it enough, and now it’s finally coming to fruition as far as us going out there and making plays,” said cornerback Brandon Carr. “Today, it felt pretty good. Four turnovers, and it all came from the secondary. I guess the bar is kind of set now. We kind of know what the expectations are, and we know we can do it now. That’s all it is, is that confidence.”
The Cowboys’ defense created four turnovers Saturday in the first preseason game this year at AT&T Stadium, including one in every quarter, while the connection between Tony Romo and Dez Bryant looked as crisp as it did to end last season.
Romo finished 13-of-18 with two touchdown passes and no interceptions behind an offensive line that featured Doug Free at right guard and Jermey Parnell at right tackle against one of the stouter defensive lines in the league.
“Not everybody can make an adjustment like that, especially not in really one week,” Romo said of Free’s move from tackle to guard. “I think it’s a testament to Doug’s ability to play both those positions.”
The offense quickly established its running game and kept going back to it throughout the day, totaling 154 yards on the ground and giving Romo more time to operate as the Bengals had to account for the run and the pass.
The Cowboys were solid offensively and defensively, but still need to figure out that third phase of the game.
After the defense forced its third fumble on the opponents’ first drive in four preseason games to start the year, the offense sputtered and were forced to punt in a scoreless game with 4:02 remaining in the first quarter. Punter Chris Jones boomed one away, but the ball hit the giant video board, and the Cowboys were forced to punt again.
“As soon as I punted it, I thought it had a chance of hitting it,” Jones said. “It got up there, got up in the shadows, and I saw it flutter down. I knew it had hit.”
That turned out to be disastrous, as the Bengals’ Brandon Tate returned the re-punt for a touchdown, as the special teams continued to struggle through the preseason.
When the offense returned for their next possession, running back DeMarco Murray did not, after he coughed the ball up and Jermey Parnell recovered it the previous offensive possession.Phillip Tanner and the rest of the starting offense took the field, and Dez Bryant caught five passes on the drive, including the touchdown grab to tie the game.
Bryant finished with six catches for 54 yards and a touchdown, while Miles Austin finished the day with four catches for 59 yards and a score. All four of Austin’s catches came on third down and ended either in a first down or touchdown.
“(Austin) looks fresher,” said head coach Jason Garrett. “He looks quicker to me. He’s a hard matchup player for people because he’s big and he can play outside, but he also has quickness to play inside.”
The offense was efficient throughout the day, but the defense kept the game close throughout. The Bengals’ only points in the first half came on the special teams touchdown, as the Cowboys’ defensive starters made life tough for Cincinnati’s first-team group.
The Bengals didn’t score any points on the Cowboys’ first-team group. The next time Cincinnati scored after the kick return occurred on a field goal after the Bengals’ first-team group went against the Dallas second-teamers in the third quarter.
It helped the Cowboys’ offense that they continued getting the ball in favorable spots.
After Bryant’s touchdown in the second quarter, rookie B.W. Webb secured his first interception of the preseason, as he joined the first-team group as an extra cornerback and blanketed Mohamed Sanu the whole way. The Cowboys’ rookie draft picks have four interceptions combined so far in the preseason.
“B-Dub made a really big play in the ball game, the interception down the middle,” Garrett said. “I thought he’s responded well to really the game in Oakland, to be honest with you. That was the game where he didn’t play his best. He fumbled a punt and some other things happened, but he responded well at practice and has played well the last couple weeks.”
The Cowboys forced a three-and-out on their next defensive possession, and the Bengals’ last possession of the half went just 18 yards before the clock hit zero and the Cowboys’ first-team defense left the field.
The defensive starters were done for the day at the half, but the ability to create turnovers transferred down to the backups as well.
Safety Jeff Heath laid a massive hit on receiver Cobi Hamilton on an end around to jar the ball loose in the third quarter, allowing cornerback Micah Pellerin to secure the fumble.
“We look for those opportunities to attack the ball and get it out,” said secondary coach Jerome Henderson. “With Jeff’s play, that’s more of just a big hit causing a turnover. That wasn’t him trying to reach in and get it out. That was him just laying the wood on a guy and the ball popping out.”
That forced fumble occurred with an 11-point lead for the Cowboys, after Murray returned to the field in the second half and responded after his early fumble with a touchdown reception, in which he broke multiple tackles and used some fancy footwork to find the end zone.
“We talked to DeMarco at halftime and gave him a chance to play in the second half, and I thought he did a good job bouncing back,” Garrett said. “We always put a big emphasis on turnovers. The story of this game was the turnover ratio.”
The Cowboys’ 21 points at that point were enough.
After Cincinnati cut the Dallas lead to 21-18 in the fourth quarter, the Cowboys added three more points on a Dan Bailey field goal and secured the victory with a pick by cornerback Xavier Brewer with less than a minute remaining in the game. The secondary was responsible for the two picks, as well as both forced fumbles and fumble recoveries.
“The competition is so intense, so competitive in our secondary room that guys may miss a couple of games, and the next man up is ready,” Carr said. “He’s ready to go out there and make plays and make a name for himself. That’s what makes teams great.”
Dallas Cowboys the most popular pick in wide-open division
Around the League predicts NFC East
|Chris Wesseling||Marc Sessler||Dan Hanzus||Gregg Rosenthal|
|Cowboys (10-6)||Cowboys (9-7)||Redskins (10-6)||Eagles (10-6)|
|Redskins (10-6)||Redskins (9-7)||Giants (9-7)||Giants (9-7)|
|Giants (9-7)||Eagles (8-8)||Cowboys (8-8)||Redskins (8-8)|
|Eagles (7-9)||Giants (6-10)||Eagles (5-11)||Cowboys (6-10)|
The NFC East is the “SEC of the NFL,” but it is the most wide-open division in football. Two Around the League writers picked the Cowboys to win the division, and our podcast special guest Henry Hodgson also took Dallas for the top spot.
I (Gregg Rosenthal) have the Cowboys in dead last at 6-10 because the changes on their defense make no sense. Monte Kiffin hasn’t had a lot of success in college or the NFL for a long time, and some of Dallas’ aging talent might not fight in a 4-3 scheme. Kiffin may need time to implement his changes, but this is a win-now year for coach Jason Garrett. Chris Wesseling believes the Cowboys have the best offense and defense in the division.
Big disagreements on Eagles
I (Gregg Rosenthal) have Philadelphia winning the division. Everyone else has them in last place. The case for the Eagles: Coach Chip Kelly and plenty of latent offensive talent. Philadelphia’s offensive line should be a weapon; there isn’t a more imposing tackle duo than Jason Peters and Lane Johnson. Kelly’s offensive concepts will be difficult for defenses to handle in year one, and he has two quarterbacks that can run his system.
All the last-place votes for Philadelphia were primarily because of the defense. The secondary is a collection of castoffs and disappointments. It’s not clear where their pass rush is going to come from.
Will Robert Griffin III take a step back?
Only one of us — Dan Hanzus — took the Redskins to repeat as division champions. There is great reason to doubt their defense, especially the secondary. (This is a trend throughout the division.) But we also wondered if RGIII is going to take a step back.
It’s not just about Griffin’s mobility or lack of practice time heading into his second season. It’s his accuracy. Tom Brady wasn’t the same right away after his ACL surgery. He wasn’t as comfortable in the pocket or as accurate. It took Brady half a season to look like himself. This Redskins team just isn’t that deep unless Griffin is all the way back sooner than later, and that’s a lot to ask.
Little love for Big Blue
No one took the Giants to win the division, although three of us had them at 9-7. (Just like the last two years, including their last Super Bowl title.) It’s hard to imagine the Giants’ defense playing worse this year, but it’s also hard to imagine it being a difference maker again.
Mark Herzlich, Spencer Paysinger and Keith Rivers are a shaky starting linebacker trio. The secondary had big questions even before injuries were suffered on Saturday night. The offensive line is similarly banged up with trouble spots. Eli Manning has elevated his play overall the last two years, but he’s not the type of quarterback that consistently puts a team on his back month-after-month.
Listen to our entire NFC East podcast preview right here. (Note: 40 minute show, half of it dedicated to NON-NFC East related teams)
Gregg Rosenthal | NFL Around The League Editor
The Boys Are Back blog editors comment: Gregg Rosenthal is a dipshit. This staff is largely clueless and out-of-touch with the inner workings, philosophy, and capabilities of the 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys organization. If this article (or Gregg Rosenthal, in general) pisses you off … check out their idiotic NFC East podcast preview for even more insight into their bias. The official NFL website is the absolute LAST place a true fan should go for reliable information, or objectivity, regarding the Dallas Cowboys. Every (Dallas Cowboy) article has a negative cheap shot or slam in one regard or another. Ridiculous.