Here are some of the good and the bad for Cincinnati:
Bengals starting quarterback Carson Palmer looked solid in his second preseason outing. The offense wasn’t perfect (we will get that later). But Palmer did his part by completing 12 of 15 passes for 105 yards. Palmer spread the ball around Terrell Owens, Chad Ochocinco, Jermaine Gresham and rookie Jordan Shipley. Palmer looked decisive and accurate Sunday.
"It was better than last week, and that’s what we're looking to do -- improve every week," Palmer said. "We got some points and more yards, but we've got to finish drives."
Second-year tailback Bernard Scott continues to impress. He led Cincinnati with 113 total yards. Scott showed his blazing speed on a with two big plays -- a 48-yard run and a 46-yard reception -- to spark the Bengals’ offense. He is expected to provide insurance for Cincinnati starting tailback Cedric Benson.
After a shaky start, the Bengals Dave Rayner may have taken the lead in Cincinnati's kicking competition against Mike Nugent. Rayner missed wide left on his first attempt off 44 yards. But Rayner made his next four field goals in his best performance to date.
Bengals coach Marvin Lewis wasn't happy last week about his team's sloppy play, but untimely penalties continued. The Bengals had third-down penalties on defensive lineman Tank Johnson (roughing the passer) and cornerback Leon Hall (pass interference) that kept Denver’s scoring drives alive. The Broncos’ starters took advantage and jumped out to a 14-0 lead. Cincinnati has recorded 14 first-half penalties in two preseason games while starters and backups who probably will make the team were still in the game.
Cincinnati's pass defense wasn't sharp against Denver. Broncos starting quarterback Kyle Orton performed well against the Bengals, completing 8 of 13 passes for 84 yards and two touchdowns. Orton also had plenty of time in the pocket, and Cincinnati’s pass rush has been a major point of emphasis for defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer in training camp. Orton had a passer rating of 119.9 in limited playing time.
Despite Palmer’s solid numbers, Cincinnati’s first-team offense still needs to tighten up some things. It will take some time for all the new pieces to fit in. The Bengals had one extra preseason game, yet Denver's first-team defense held the Bengals' starters scoreless. A missed field goal and failed fourth-down conversion killed Cincinnati’s first two drives. Cincinnati's starting offense finally got its first points of the preseason -- a Cedric Benson 1-yard touchdown run -- in the second quarter against Denver's backups.