There was one goal in mind for the Cincinnati Bengals and head coach Marvin Lewis as the team faced the Indianapolis Colts in the final preseason game of 2013 – keep all the players healthy going into the regular season. While both the offense and the defense displayed a much better disciplined team and one that is ready for the regular season, the team took a hit with the injury of linebacker Emmanuel Lamur in the first quarter.
Lamur dislocated his shoulder and is likely lost for the season. He was slotted to play backup at middle linebacker, but he is capable of playing any of the linebacker positions. Now the team is relying on Vincent Rey to backup Rey Maualuga if he were to get injured. Let’s just say it’s a good thing that Maualuga is reliable and doesn’t get injured often. Not that Rey is a bad player, he just isn’t very good.
After the win Thursday, quarter back Andy Dalton likes where the team is headed.
“We came out tonight and did what we wanted to do. We moved the ball with the first offense, especially running the ball, and we scored a TD,” Dalton told reporters. “As far as the season, I feel like we’re ready to go. We’ve played together well, I like the new elements we have, and I’m looking forward to going to Chicago.”
Dalton was right about the offense, especially the first team which scored four times in 10 series of play. The first team scored three touchdowns and a field goal with the Bengals stressing the running game. More than half of the offensive plays were runs – a rarity in today’s pass happy NFL – and the team averaged 5.0 yards per carry, with 4 plays of 20 yards or more.
The first drive of the game displayed that the Bengals didn’t want Dalton getting hurt and that they believe in their running game with Giovani Bernard getting the ball six out of seven plays that culminated in a 1-yard touchdown run. It was Bernard’s third touchdown of the preseason.
After the opening series, Dalton’s day was over but the offense kept on scoring. Quarterback Josh Johnson showed his assets as a backup yet again with his legs as he had another long run (38 yards) that set up a 3-yard passing touchdown to Marvin Jones. John Skelton wasn’t far behind Johnson, going 6 of 10 for 99 yards and one touchdown.
Between the two backups, it appears that Johnson has the slight edge to play behind Dalton due to his running abilities on broken plays.
The defense did a good job containing the Colts’ offense that was comprised primarily of backups, with starting quarterback Andrew Luck not taking a snap. Instead, backup quarterback Matt Hasselback started and played two series, going 5 of 9 for 49 yards.
The Bengals’ defense was led by linebacker J.K. Schaffer who had a sack and an interception. Unfortunately for Schaffer who led the team in tackles (20), his preseason prowess wasn’t good enough as he was cut by the team on Saturday.
As for the Bengals preparing for the regular season opener against Chicago next Sunday, head coach Marvin Lewis is happy with the results of his team that has gone 3-1 this preseason.
“Sometimes it’s a difficult situation going into the fourth preseason game but I thought our players came out and responded well and ready to play,” Lewis told reporters. “I thought our (first-team) guys played well with limited exposure. Get in, get out and then it was really a good night to watch the other guys play and compete.”