Despite a valiant second-half effort, the Cincinnati Bengals came up short for the second week in a row, this one being a 20-17 loss at the gun to the Dallas Cowboys.
The Cowboys got off to a fast start to the game by driving 75 yards to score a touchdown. It was the exact opposite of what everyone expected with Dallas being without Prescott. Cooper Rush made a few big plays, but his biggest was a conversion on Fourth-and-2 on Dallas’ own 40-yard line. He hit a receiver behind the initial coverage, which kept the drive alive.
The Bengals only managed to answer back with a field goal. Micah Parsons helped throw off the drive when he put an incredible move on offensive tackle La’el Collins that turned the veteran around.
It was great to see that the whole process of the long snap getting to Kevin Huber for Evan McPherson to continue showing he is an incredible kicker. Everyone showed some appreciation for Cal Adomitis as the team’s new long snapper.
The Cowboys offensive prowess didn’t slow down on their second drive as running back Tony Pollard had a huge play where he took a pass over 40 yards from behind the line of scrimmage. Vonn Bell made a touchdown saving tackle, but Pollard got in the end zone the next play on a one-yard run.
Joe Burrow continued to feel the pressure on the next drive as Micah Parsons ended up untouched on a crucial third down. However, Cincinnati’s defense finally stepped up with a stop that was catapulted by Trey Hendrickson making a nine yard tackle for a loss on second down.
The rest of the half was very frustrating offensively for Cincinnati. Plenty of third down and longs or plays getting blown up in the backfield. The defense at least held the Dallas offense and Rush in check the rest of the way. They managed to add a field goal right before the half after Mike Hilton dropped a potentially game changing interception.
Coming out of halftime, the Bengals managed to get a first down before facing a Fourth-and-4 where they were set to punt. However, an encroachment penalty on the Cowboys gave them new life. Cincinnati managed to hit Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd for the first time in the game, but the drive still only resulted in a field goal for a team that was looking to hit the ground running in Week 2.
The Bengals added yet another field goal. Then the Cowboys began to put together a methodical drive that looked destined for points. Rush then hit his tight end for a first down, but Bell was able to punch the ball out for Cincinnati’s first forced turnover of the season. D.J. Reader was on the recovery. It was his first fumble recovery of the season. The big man gets rewarded for pursuing the play.
Burrow and the offense got the ball with a little over 12 minutes left in fourth quarter down by eight. What followed was a 19 play drive that resulted in a Higgins touchdown catch and Boyd two point conversion.
The drive started with the Cowboys punting the ball into the scoreboard, but they didn’t replay the down due to a lack of evidence (even though it totally did). It was probably the best protection the quarterback received all day as he was able to drop a few dimes in key situations.
Tight end Hayden Hurst also came up big on a couple of third downs. He also had an unnecessary roughness flag picked up on a hit he took down the middle (even though it totally was). The entire drive could be summed up as the offense finally stepping up to the adversity they’ve been facing all season.
The Cowboys’ following drive picked up a first down quickly but was stopped by a B.J. Hill deflected pass that brought up fourth down. They then pinned Cincinnati inside their own 10-yard line.
The Bengals were unable to pick up a first down on their possession. Kevin Huber kicked an amazing punt. Still, Cincinnati’s defense could not stop Rush from hitting his receivers down field when they needed to most. The Cowboy’s offense was able to get into range, and they kicked a 50-yard field goal as time expired to win the game 20-17.
The Bengals now fall to 0-2 and sit at the bottom of an AFC North that all lost in Week 2. Fortunately, every other team is only 1-1, but the Bengals have squandered an opportunity to realistically be 2-0. They need to wake up sooner rather than later.