- Jamison Hensley, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Bengals opened the preseason with a 17-6 win over the Jets that proved costly. Four starters left the first half with injuries, and it's not immediately known how long they will be out.
Left guard Travelle Wharton was carted off the field with a knee injury on the Bengals' third offensive snap of the game. On the next series, middle linebacker Rey Maualuga and defensive end Carlos Dunlap both sustained right knee injuries. Early in the second quarter, strong safety Taylor Mays was knocked out of the game with a head injury.
Here are my thoughts and observations from the game:
While the three injuries on defense are a concern, that starting group put together a dominating effort. The Bengals limited Mark Sanchez and the Jets offense to 20 total yards in the first quarter. The defensive front got consistent pressure just like last year, and Maualuga and linebacker Manny Lawson both recorded sacks.
Quarterback Andy Dalton (4-of-9 for 54 yards) found his rhythm on his second and last drive of the game. But the 15-play, 76-yard drive ended with a field goal. Cincinnati failed to punch the ball in the end zone despite having first-and-goal from the 5-yard line. It was interesting to see the Bengals hand the ball off to red zone monster BenJarvus Green-Ellis only once when they were so close to the goal line.
Wide receiver A.J. Green had an off night in his brief outing. It was uncharacteristic of Green to drop a touchdown in the end zone after beating Darrelle Revis on a slant. He was one of the few receivers to make a bad impression. Armon Binns looked good running after the catch, Brandon Tate made some athletic grabs and Marvin Jones got behind the defense for a 45-yard reception. The battle for the No. 2 receiver spot remains tight after the first preseason game.
Running back Cedric Peerman solidified his spot on the roster, even though he wasn't on the bubble. He recovered Robert Sands' blocked punt in the end zone and scored his second touchdown of the game on a 1-yard run in the third quarter.
Green-Ellis looked good even though his numbers don't reflect that. He was patient following his blockers, gaining 22 yards on seven carries. Not known for being a pass catcher in New England, Green-Ellis beat linebacker Bart Scott one-on-one for an 18-yard reception to convert a third down.