In the end, Cincinnati's concerns were the same as those of the Redskins. Bengals Coach Forrest Gregg wondered aloud whether he had a quarterback capable of being an adequate backup in the NFL. And he worried that the defense showed too many glaring weaknesses, even for a preseason game.
"Kenny Anderson we know about," Gregg said of his starting quarterback. "What we've still got to find out about is what we have after him." What the Bengals had after Anderson last night was pretty good when you got down to the third string.
Turk Schonert, the fourth-year man from Stanford, completed only four of 12 passes, two of which were intercepted. But Jeff Christensen, a rookie from Eastern Illinois, completed all four of his passes, including a 25-yard touchdown pass to Dan Ross, which gave the Bengals their final score in a 27-23 loss to the Redskins.
"I was pleased with Christensen on that final drive," Gregg said. The Bengals took only eight plays to drive 84 yards. They put together several impressive drives, especially with Anderson completing 11 of 14 passes for 155 yards in the first half. But two interceptions and two fumbles abbreviated three of those drives and nullified Cincinnati's edge in total offense, 330 yards to 256.
"You don't get any cigars for yardage gained," Gregg said. "The first team is okay, except we made a big mistake (Anderson's fumble in the first half) in the two-minute drill."
"We always seem to move the ball well between the 20s in the preseason," said receiver Cris Collinsworth. "But we're doing little things to stop ourselves that we have to eliminate before the regular season. Our fans go kinda crazy watching these preseason games, when we move the ball and don't score. But we did the same thing last year, went 1-3 in the preseason, then went 7-2 in the regular season."
Isaac Curtis, the Bengals' other standout receiver, was impressed with the way his team played in the first half. "We were on," he said. "People are talking about the Redskin secondary being inexperienced, but their secondary is respectable the way it is. It's still early, but I can see they're capable," he said of cornerback LeCharls McDaniel and strong safety Ken Coffey, both emergency fill-ins.
Gregg's other concern was that his first-team defense looked in preseason form against the Redskins' top offense. On the Redskins' first-quarter scoring drive, fullback John Riggins carried seven times for 41 yards.
"They hooked us and went to work on the ends, especially around the right side," Gregg said. "We just got outmanned. That bothers me . . . the way they ran the ball right around us. I think I could have called the plays (for Riggins) and not even have been in the huddle."