NFL Preview - Cincinnati (1-1) at Washington (1-1)|
By Lyle Fitzsimmons, Contributing NFL Editor
(Sports Network) - Winning one of two games is surely better than none. But
that doesn't mean all is sunshine and roses for the Cincinnati Bengals heading
into Week 3.
The team lost by a 44-13 score at Baltimore in Week 1 before bouncing back to
for a 34-27 defeat of Cleveland in its second go-round, but the bottom line of
71 points allowed by the Bengals through two games isn't sitting well with the
guys who get paid to stop the other teams.
And with early-season phenom Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins
next up on the opponents list, it's genuine cause for uneasiness as Cincinnati
heads to FedEx Field for this Sunday's contest.
"We got the win (against Cleveland), but we weren't happy," Bengals cornerback
Leon Hall said. "Getting the first of the year is big, but like anything else,
you want to play well individually and as a defense. Obviously you are happy,
but at the same time you realize things aren't as good as they seem, coming
off a win and that you've got a lot of room to improve."
Cincinnati's average of 434.5 yards allowed per game is 30th in the league,
well off the stingy pace of 316.3 yards per game the team set last season. Not
helping matters is the loss of linebacker Thomas Howard -- last season's
leading tackler -- to a torn ACL suffered at practice last week.
Defensive end Jamaal Anderson then went on injured reserve Tuesday after a
sustaining a torn quadriceps tendon against Cleveland. However, fellow end
Carlos Dunlap could play after a knee problem kept him out the first two
"I know that we are a better defense than we've been showing," Cincinnati
defensive lineman Domata Peko said. "I think we've just got to settle down. It
seems like everybody's eyes have been too wide open, like a deer in the
The Redskins haven't been immune to the injury bug themselves.
Two-time Pro Bowl linebacker Brian Orakpo and defensive end Adam Carriker also
went on injured reserve following Washington's 31-28 Week 2 loss to St. Louis.
Orakpo tore the pectoral muscle near his left shoulder and Carriker tore a
tendon in his right knee, weakening a unit that allowed 452 yards against the
"It's an opportunity for somebody else now," linebacker London Fletcher said.
"We're a no-excuse football team."
Rob Jackson and Chris Wilson will take up Orakpo's time at linebacker, with
second-year pro Jarvis Jenkins stepping in for Carriker. Safety Brandon
Meriweather may also be available after a knee injury sidelined him for the
first two weeks.
"When somebody's injured, we shouldn't have a drop-off," Jenkins said. "That's
what everybody gets coached for, it's why everybody goes to training camp.
It's why our defensive line coach (Jacob Burney) coaches everybody the same,
because once one guy goes down, somebody has to step up."
Meanwhile, the Redskins went south in terms of maturity with an
unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that proved costly against the Rams. Wide
receiver Josh Morgan threw the ball at cornerback Cortland Finnegan after
making a catch in the final seconds, leaving the Redskins with a fourth-and-16
situation at the St. Louis 44-yard line.
One snap later, kicker Billy Cundiff missed a potential game-tying 62-yard
"You can't lose your poise," Washington head coach Mike Shanahan said. "You
lose your poise, obviously good things don't happen."
Griffin and Morgan connected five times for 50 yards against the Rams, part of
the rookie quarterback's second-game effort of 20-of-29 completions for 206
yards, a touchdown and an interception. He also ran for 82 yards and scored
twice on the ground.
Wide receiver Pierre Garcon caught four passes for 109 yards in Washington's
40-32 win at New Orleans in Week 1 before missing the second game with an
injured foot. He was limited in this week's practices and is questionable to
go against the Bengals.
Garcon's absence didn't help matters for Griffin, who nonetheless has taken it
upon himself to reverse the result from last week.
"I didn't make enough plays to help the team, and that's the bottom line,?
Griffin said. "You're judged on wins and losses and we lost the game, so I
didn't play well enough."
Series tied, 4-4
Streak: Bengals have won last two meetings
Last Meeting: Bengals 20, Redskins 13 (Dec. 14, 2008 at Cincinnati)
Last Meeting at Site: Bengals 17, Redskins 10 (Nov. 14, 2004)
Bengals HC Marvin Lewis vs. Redskins: 2-0
Redskins HC Mike Shanahan vs. Bengals: 6-3 overall, 0-0 with Washington
Lewis vs. Shanahan Head-to-Head: Shanahan leads, 2-1
Notes: Bengals are making only their second visit to Washington since 1985 and
had lost their first three road tests in the series prior to their 2004 win at
FedEx Field. Redskins last defeated the Bengals on Sept. 22, 1991, a 34-27
triumph in Cincinnati. Shanahan posted a 5-2 mark against the Bengals during
his 14-year tenure in Denver from 1995-2008 and split a pair of matchups with
Cincinnati while piloting the Los Angeles Raiders from 1988-89. Lewis was
Washington's defensive coordinator in 2002 before becoming Bengals' head
BY THE NUMBERS
Offensive Team Rankings
Cincinnati: 18th overall (348.5 ypg), 16th rushing (104.5 ypg), 16th passing
(244.0 ypg), 16th scoring (23.5 ppg)
Washington: 4th overall (416.0 ypg), 4th rushing (164.5 ypg), 11th passing
(251.5 ypg), 1st scoring (34.0 ppg)
Defensive Team Rankings
Cincinnati: 30th overall (434.5 ypg), 19th rushing (126.0 ypg), 29th passing
(308.5 ypg), 29th scoring (35.5 ppg)
Washington: 28th overall (405.0 ypg), 10th rushing (91.5 ypg), 30th passing
(313.5 ypg), 27th scoring (31.5 ppg)
Cincinnati: -2 (1 takeaway, 3 giveaways)
Washington: +5 (6 takeaways, 1 giveaway)
Red Zone Touchdown Percentage (offense)
Cincinnati: 33.3 percent (6 possessions, 2 TD, 4 FG) -- 27th overall
Washington: 71.4 percent (7 possessions, 5 TD, 2 FG) -- tied 4th overall
Red Zone Touchdown Percentage (defense)
Cincinnati: 75.0 percent (4 possessions, 3 TD, 1 FG) -- tied 27th overall
Washington: 37.5 percent (8 possessions, 3 TD, 4 FG) -- tied 7th overall
WHEN THE BENGALS HAVE THE BALL
Though he'll take a backseat to Griffin in the phenom quarterback department
on Sunday, Cincinnati's Andy Dalton tied a career high with three touchdowns
passes last week and posted a career-best 128.2 passer rating as well. He is
3-1 in his career against the NFC, while the Bengals are 4-1 when his rating
reaches three digits. Formerly of New England, running back and offseason
addition BenJarvus Green-Ellis has seven touchdowns in his last eight games
against NFC opponents and 12 scores in his last 18 games overall. On the
outside, wide receiver A.J. Green caught his first touchdown pass of the
season last week, while counterpart Andrew Hawkins had a 50-yard catch for his
first score as a Bengal. Also scoring for the first time in a Cincinnati
uniform against the Browns was wide receiver Brandon Tate. At tight end,
Jermaine Gresham has 10 touchdown catches in his three-year career.
For the Redskins' defense, cornerback Josh Wilson returned a fumble 30 yards
for a touchdown last week against the Rams, and he's also scored four times on
either interception or kick returns during his career. Veteran linebacker
Fletcher had an interception against St. Louis as well.
WHEN THE REDSKINS HAVE THE BALL
Though his win/loss record fell to .500 after Week 2, Griffin has been nothing
but a difference-maker so far for the Redskins, leading all NFL rookies and
placing fourth overall in the league with a 111.6 passer rating while
completing 39-of-55 throws for 526 yards, three touchdowns and a single
interception. He's the first rookie since 1969 with a passing touchdown of 65
or more yards in each of his first two games and also leads all quarterbacks
with 124 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Speaking of rookie playmakers,
running back Alfred Morris has a league-best 185 rushing yards for first-year
players and is tied with Griffin with a rookie-best two scores. Against St.
Louis, he and Griffin became the first quarterback/running back duo to each
have 80 rushing yards since 1958. Among the receiving options, wideout Leonard
Hankerson had a 68-yard touchdown catch against the Rams, the first of his
career. Former Colt Garcon had eight catches in his most recent meeting with
Cincinnati, which came while with Indianapolis last October, while veteran
Santana Moss had seven catches for 72 yards and a score the last time he faced
the Bengals. Moss is one of nine active players with 9,000 career receiving
yards as well. Griffin's passes for wideout Aldrick Robinson through the first
two games have resulted in six first downs, and 11 Redskins have at least one
reception in all this year.
On defense, Cincinnati linebacker Rey Maualuga has broken out to take the club
lead in tackles with 15 through two weeks, while end Michael Johnson had both
a sack and a fumble recovery last week. Cornerback Terence Newman had nine
career interceptions against Washington during his days with the Dallas
Cowboys - his most against any team.
The Bengals showed some mettle last week in bouncing back from the big Week 1
loss, but a recovery against the not-very-highly-thought-of Browns isn't
exactly an elixir for all ills. With the dangerous and dynamic Griffin sure to
make at least a non-scripted play or two, a Cincinnati unit that's been taxed
for 71 points already might be in for a bit too much on the opponent's home
field. Expect the rookie to make just enough plays to make it happen.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Redskins 30, Bengals 20
09/20 09:05:21 ET