NFL Nation: 2014 NFL Preseason Week 4 CIN at ARI Observation Deck


GLENDALE, Ariz. -- It took the Cincinnati Bengals three tries, but they finally walked away with a preseason win Sunday night when they knocked off the Cardinals 19-13 at University of Phoenix Stadium.

While the preseason primarily is about the players and their ability to impress coaches in order to earn spots on the 53-man roster, it is also about generating some cohesion, confidence, rhythm and momentum for the entire team entering the regular season. That's the main reason why coaches and players alike were desperate this week to claim a win after two fruitless attempts to start the preseason.

Thanks to the win, momentum was generated. Confidence? Perhaps it was instilled, too. Only time will tell. As for cohesion and rhythm, it seems the Bengals still have some work to do in those areas. At times Sunday they seemed very out of sync both offensively and on special teams. The no-huddle offense that was so fluid last week against the Jets was syncopated against the Cardinals. At times the first-team offense hummed smoothly along. At others, it had trouble getting settled into its normally quick tempo because of penalties and apparent issues with communication.

Here are a few more thoughts on the Bengals' preseason game Sunday:
  • We might as well extend the story line of Cincinnati's arrhythmic starting offense a little further. Here are two occasions when quarterback Andy Dalton didn't seem on the same page with his receivers. Once at the end of the first quarter, A.J. Green opened up to his left after running wide open into the flat. Dalton, seeing Green break open, threw over his right shoulder, clearly expecting the wideout to turn a different way. The pass fell incomplete and stalled a drive on third down. In the second quarter, tight end Jermaine Gresham cut off a route that Dalton proceeded to throw 15 yards downfield. The quarterback expected Gresham to extend the route. Some of the miscommunication could be attributed to the Bengals' mixing of lineups. Backups were inserted as early as the second play of the game as they rotated with starters for individual evaluation purposes.
  • In addition to their sporadic issues with rhythm, the Bengals had difficulty figuring out where and how to run the football early. Starter Giovani Bernard began the game dedicated to bouncing the ball to the edge. Those carries largely proved worthless. Of his 10 first-half carries, five went to the left and right edges. They gained just 3 yards. The other carries in the middle of the field resulted in 14-yard gains. Those runs came around the same time late in the second quarter when rookie Jeremy Hill came in as a backup. All four of his first-half carries went between the tackles. They amassed 23 yards. Power-run football is part of what offensive coordinator Hue Jackson's new offense hinges on, and it's clear the Bengals were better Sunday doing that than when they went away from it.
  • Field position also was an issue for the Bengals who couldn't seem to get out of the shadows of their own end zone. Of the 10 drives they had, seven started at their own 20 or inside it. Of those, four began inside the 10-yard line. With poor field position, the Bengals' starters had trouble moving the football and converting third downs. They were 4-for-15 on third down.
  • As it has for most of the preseason, the Bengals' defense was sound. The starters primarily played through the second quarter, allowing just one Arizona field goal in their time on the field. The base first-team defense has now allowed just four field goals in its three preseason games. Among the defenders of note: defensive tackle Geno Atkins, who saw extended action for the first time this year after returning from an ACL injury from last season.

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- For much of the first half, the Arizona Cardinals' starting offense looked too familiar. It played like last year’s offense, especially quarterback Carson Palmer, who threw one interception that was returned for a touchdown in the Cardinals' 19-13 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals and had two others go either off or through the hands of Bengals’ defenders.

With impressive protection from the offensive line, Palmer threw for just 92 yards on 7-of-19 passing while not leading the first-team offense on a scoring drive for the first time all preseason.

Here are some other thoughts on the Cardinals' third preseason game of the season:
  • Veteran kicker Jay Feely might have sealed his own fate late in the first quarter by missing a 48-yard field goal wide right. Cardinals coach Bruce Arians has been clear that his first requirement for a kicker to make the team is making his field goals. If all is equal after field goals, then kickoffs will decide who stays and who goes. Feely’s two kickoffs both went 9 yards deep. Rookie Chandler Catanzaro hit a 23-yard field goal and sent one of his two kickoffs nine yards deep and the other out of the end zone.
  • Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles used a variety of formations and combinations Sunday night, but nose tackle Dan Williams had to sprint off the field every time he went from a base to the Cards’ nickel defense, which seemed like nearly every other play in first quarter. But the defense, as a whole, played well with defensive tackle Frostee Rucker in place of the injured Darnell Dockett, holding the Bengals to just 14 offensive plays for 40 yards in the first quarter.
  • Kenny Demens is finally looking like he’s coming into his own. His four first-half tackles showed off Demens' power up the middle and his newfound quickness. Demens tracked down a short pass to the right side from Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton to receiver A.J. Green in the second quarter to make the tackle. With the severity of Kevin Minter's pectoral injury unknown, Demens might be getting more reps with the first team, and coupling him with veteran Larry Foote might be to the Cardinals’ benefit. Foote started the game with two straight tackles and finished with three. The 34-year-old looked quick in the box, and the pair’s only mistakes seemed to come when Bengals tight end Jermaine Greshman got behind them for a 33-yard catch.
  • The addition of Ted Larsen as the first-team left guard was seamless. Palmer didn’t get sacked in the first half and was given plenty of time to throw. Larsen may have played well enough to keep the job through the beginning of the season.
  • Don’t read much into Jaron Brown or Ted Ginn not playing much with the first team in the first half. John Brown needed more time with the starters, but Jaron Brown and Ginn have showed throughout camp and the preseason that they’re worthy of first-team reps.

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