Despite a valiant second-half effort, the Cincinnati Bengals fell short for the second week in a row, this one a 20-17 loss to the Dallas Cowboys.
The Cowboys got off to a quick start in the game by driving 75 yards to score a touchdown. It was the exact opposite of what everyone expected with Dallas without Prescott. Cooper Rush made some big plays, but his biggest was a conversion on Fourth-and-2 at Dallas’ own 40-yard line. He hit a receiver behind the first coverage, which kept the drive alive.
The Bengals could only answer back with a field goal. Micah Parsons helped cap the drive when he made an unbelievable move on offensive tackle La’el Collins that turned the veteran over.
It was great to see the whole process of the long snap come to Kevin Huber for Evan McPherson to continue to show that 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 the second drive, as running back Tony Pollard had a huge play catching a 40-yard pass from behind the line of scrimmage. Vonn Bell made a touchdown save, but Pollard got into 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 went untouched on a crucial third down. However, Cincinnati’s defense finally stepped up with a stop thrown by Trey Hendrickson who made a nine-yard tackle for a loss on second down.
The rest of the half was very frustrating offensively for Cincinnati. Plenty of third downs and longs or plays getting blown up in the backfield. At least the defense kept the Dallas offense and Rush in check the rest of the way. They managed to add a field goal just 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 had to punt. However, an interference 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 looking to hit the ground running in Week 2.
The Bengals added another field goal. Then the Cowboys began to put together a methodical drive that seemed to get 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. DJ Reader was in recovery. It was his first recovery of the season. The big man is rewarded for pursuing the play.
Burrow and the offense got the ball with just over 12 minutes left in the fourth quarter down eight. What followed was a 19 play that resulted in a Higgins touchdown catch and Boyd two-point conversion.
The rally started with the Cowboys putting the ball on the scoreboard, but they didn’t play the down again due to lack of evidence (although it totally did). It was probably the best protection the quarterback got all day as he was able to drop some dimes in key situations.
Tight end Hayden Hurst also came up big on a pair of third downs. He also had an unnecessary roughness flag picked up on a hit he took down the middle (although it totally was). The entire drive can be summed up as the offense finally stepping up to the adversity they’ve faced all season.
The Cowboys’ ensuing drive picked up a first down quickly, but was stopped by a BJ Hill deflected pass leading up to fourth down. They then pinned Cincinnati inside their own 10-yard line.
The Bengals failed to pick up a first down on their possession. Kevin Huber kicked a fantastic shot. Still, Cincinnati’s defense couldn’t stop the Rush from hitting receivers down the field when they needed it most. The Cowboy offense was able to get within 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 just 1-1, but the Bengals have squandered an opportunity to realistically go 2-0. They need to wake up sooner rather than later.