Here are four takeaways from the Redskins’ 23-13 loss to the Bengals in their second preseason game.
Dwayne Haskins’s second impression includes first touchdown: Just as he did last week, the rookie first-round pick started strong after replacing Case Keenum at quarterback. Haskins connected with tight end Jeremy Sprinkle in the flat for Washington’s first third-down conversion of the game late in the second quarter, and while he threw too high for Robert Davis on the next play, he redeemed himself moments later. On third-and-eight from the Washington 45-yard line, Haskins stepped up in the pocket with a pair of Bengals defenders bearing down on him and released a perfect pass to Davis, who caught the ball in stride at the Cincinnati 20 and raced into the end zone. Haskins, who threw a pair of interceptions in his preseason debut last week, struggled to find a rhythm after that, completing 7 of 14 passes for 114 yards before being removed midway through the fourth quarter. He also fumbled after being hit from his blindside and the Bengals recovered. The play was reviewed and it was confirmed that it was indeed a fumble and not an incompletion.
Familiar names get some reps: You still needed a roster to recognize the Redskins on the field for most of the night, but a lot more of Washington’s projected starters and key backups suited up than last week at Cleveland. Adrian Peterson showed no signs of rust or age, breaking off a 26-yard gain on his first carry of the preseason. Vernon Davis was on the receiving end of a pair of Case Keenum completions for 43 yards. On defense, rookie pass rusher Montez Sweat started, but had a quiet debut. Fellow defensive linemen Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen were both in on tackles during their limited reps in the first quarter and safety Landon Collins delivered a big hit on Cincinnati’s first play from scrimmage.
Turnover story: The Redskins’ defense has shown a nose for the ball through two preseason games. After rookie cornerback Jimmy Moreland forced a pair of fumbles last week in Cleveland, safety Montae Nicholson opened the scoring on Thursday with a 96-yard interception return for a touchdown. Payne made the pick-six possible by deflecting Andy Dalton’s pass at the line of scrimmage. The Redskins had one defensive touchdown all of last season, and it came on a fumble recovery. Greg Manusky’s unit is expected to be a strength of this team, and one of the marks of a great defense is scoring from time to time. No matter who is named the starting quarterback, the offense could use all the help it can get.
Special teams and officiating were brutal: Redskins special teams coordinator Nate Kaczor has his work cut out for him over the next two weeks. For the second straight game, Washington allowed a punt return touchdown, this one a 75-yard score by Alex Erickson that featured would-be Redskins tacklers running into each other. Kicker Dustin Hopkins missed a 50-yard field goal and an extra point, though the latter appeared to be due to a bad snap. The officiating was equally ugly. The teams combined for 22 penalties, including six flags in the first two minutes. The Redskins were burned by a pair of questionable offensive pass interference calls, including one on rookie wide receiver Kelvin Harmon, who was flagged for trying to make a play on an underthrown pass as his defender, who wasn’t looking back at the ball, ran into him.
Punt return touchdown extends Cincinnati’s lead: For the second straight week, the Redskins have allowed a punt return touchdown. This one, by Alex Erickson, covered 75 yards and gave Cincinnati a 10-point lead. After the score, Jalan McClendon, who was signed last week to replace the injured Josh Woodrum, replaced Dwayne Haskins at quarterback for the Redskins. (Bengals 23, Redskins 13, 6:18 4th Quarter)
Tristan Vizcaino gives Bengals their first lead of the game: The kicking, among other things, had been ugly in this game, with the teams combined for two missed field goals and extra points before Vizcaino, a rookie out of Washington, connected on a 57-yarder to give Cincinnati the lead. The Bengals’ eight-play, 32-yard drive began with a dropped interception by linebacker Cassanova McKinzy. Dwayne Haskins, who is 6 for 12 for 108 yards and one touchdown, remains in the game for Washington. (Bengals 16, Redskins 13, 8:14 4th Quarter)
Bengals capitalize with touchdown: Six plays after Dwayne Haskins’s fumble gave Cincinnati the ball at the Redskins’ 25-yard line, Ryan Finley found Auden Tate for a three-yard touchdown pass. Tate beat cornerback Delon Harris on the play. (Redskins 13, Bengals 13, 3:11 3rd Quarter)
Haskins commits another turnover: Haskins completed his first pass of the second half for a 15-yard gain to tight end JP Holtz, but Washington has struggled to move the ball since then. On third-and-eight from deep in Cincinnati territory on the Redskins’ second possession of the half, Haskins lost control of the ball as he was hit from behind by Bengals defensive end Jordan Willis. The play was ruled a fumble recovered by the Bengals, and was upheld by replay review. (Redskins 13, Bengals 6, 6:21 3rd Quarter)
Halftime: Redskins 13, Bengals 6
The Redskins defense forced a three-and-out on the Bengals’ next possession after Dwayne Haskins’s touchdown pass, using their timeouts in the process to leave time for the offense. Washington failed to move the ball on the rookie quarterback’s second series and Haskins took a sack on third down. If last week was any indication, Haskins figures to get a few more reps in the second half. Outside of one series, the Redskins’ defense has played well. Jay Gruden’s biggest concern at this point might be the status of Morgan Moses, who headed to the locker room in the second quarter.
Dwayne Haskins throws first touchdown: For the second straight week, Haskins started strong after replacing Case Keenum. He completed two of his three attempts on his first drive, including a 55-yard touchdown to wide receiver Robert Davis. The throw, which looked effortless and came on third-and-eight, was even more impressive considering it came with two Bengals defenders closing in on him. (Redskins 13, Bengals 6, 1:51 2nd Quarter)
Dwayne Haskins is in for Washington: Case Keenum’s night appears to be done, as the rookie Haskins took the field after the Bengals went three-and-out midway through the second quarter. Keenum was 3 for 7 for 52 yards, with two of those completions going to Vernon Davis. He and Josh Doctson didn’t look to be on the same page on a deep ball in the first quarter, after a Shaun Wilson punt return gave the Redskins great field position. Keenum’s final line would’ve looked better if his 44-yard completion to Steven Sims Jr. on fourth-and-two from the Bengals 47-yard line hadn’t been wiped out by an offensive pass interference penalty on Cam Sims. Jay Gruden challenged the call, which is allowed under the league’s new rules this season, but the penalty was upheld after review. (Redskins 6, Bengals 6, 5:19 2nd Quarter)
Ryan Finley is perfect on Bengals’ touchdown drive: Finley, a rookie fourth-round pick out of N.C. State, replaced Andy Dalton at quarterback after two series and led Cincinnati on its first scoring drive. Finley completed all eight of his passes for 79 yards, including a five-yard touchdown pass to rookie tight end Drew Sample. Two plays earlier, Finley connected with another tight end, Mason Schreck, for what turned into an 18-yard gain after both Greg Stroman and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie missed tackles. It was an ugly series for the Washington defense, and an uglier extra point attempt by Randy Bullock. (Redskins 6, Bengals 6, 2nd Quarter, 10:10 2nd Quarter)
Washington’s first drive ends in missed field goal: On his first carry of the preseason after sitting out last week’s game, Adrian Peterson ripped off a 26-yard run. Case Keenum completed a 17-yard slant pass to Vernon Davis on Washington’s next play. Later in the drive, another Keenum completion appeared to give the Redskins a first down inside the red zone, but a Chase Roullier holding penalty nullified the conversion. Left tackle Geron Christian, who struggled last week, was beat in pass protection on the ensuing play, forcing Keenum to throw the ball away, and the Redskins to settle for a long field goal attempt. Dustin Hopkins’ low-liner from 50 yards out was partially deflected and never had a chance. (Redskins 6, Bengals 0, 6:39 1st Quarter)
Montae Nicholson’s pick-six gives Redskins the early lead: The referees were the star of the opening series. After the Redskins won the toss and deferred, Cincinnati marched to the Washington 11, thanks mostly to penalties. There were six flags thrown in the first two minutes of the game, including questionable unnecessary roughness penalties on Jonathan Allen and Josh Norman on back-to-back plays. Norman then picked up an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for voicing his displeasure with the call against him. On third-and-seven, Daron Payne tipped Andy Dalton’s pass at the line of scrimmage and safety Montae Nicholson returned it 96 yards for a touchdown. “And no flags,” Redskins TV analyst Joe Theismann said after Nicholson reached the end zone. A low snap on the ensuing extra point caused Dustin Hopkins to miss wide left. (Redskins 6, Bengals 0, 11:43 1st Quarter)
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