Bengals score first offensive TD of preason; settle for tie vs. Falcons

The Cincinnati Bengals went more than seven quarters without an offensive touchdown this preseason, and the first one should have been enough for a victory.

Jake Browning completed all five of his passes on the Bengals’ final drive for 47 yards, and rookie Chase Brown pushed through for a 1-yard touchdown and a three-point lead with 50 seconds left. However, the defense couldn’t hold it, and Atlanta moved down the field for a 45-yard field goal with two seconds remaining, and the teams settled for a 13-13 tie Friday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Cincinnati’s only other touchdown of the preseason came last week on safety Tycen Anderson’s pick-6 in a loss to Green Bay, but the Bengals hadn’t played starters on offense, except right tackle Jonah Williams for one series. Until that final minute, the backups hadn’t been able to get the job done, and Evan McPherson’s two field goals accounted for the team’s only other scores in the game.

While the offense had struggled with backup quarterbacks Trevor Siemian and Browning, the defense continued to make plays until the end of the game. The Bengals used all their defensive starters on the opening drive, except cornerback Chidobe Awuzie, and although the Falcons chewed up 10 minutes off the clock on a 14-play drive, Cincinnati got the stop.

The Falcons had first-and-goal from the 4-yard line but back-to-back false start penalties set them back, and Dax Hill made an open-field tackle on Bijan Robinson on second down to set up a big third-down opportunity. Mike Hilton batted Desmond Ridder’s pass into the air, and Joseph Ossai snagged the interception.

Atlanta had another long drive in the second quarter but settled for a field goal, and the Bengals took advantage of a short field to tie the game going into halftime on McPherson’s 50-yard field goal.

Browning got the Cincinnati offense moving to start the second half but needed McPherson again to get points on the board the opening drive for a 6-3 lead, and the second possession ended up in a turnover on downs just outside the redzone. The Falcons had taken the 10-6 advantage on the drive just before that on Carlos Washington’s 1-yard touchdown run.

An interception by Browning ended another drive for the Bengals’ offense in the fourth quarter, putting Atlanta in good position on the 37-yard line, but again the defense came through with a stop thanks to Owen Carney’s third-down sack of former Bengals draft pick and third-string Falcons quarterback Logan Woodside.

The Bengals responded with their go-ahead drive, which included a big catch from Andrei Iosivas to put them on the 1-yard line for Brown’s score. Woodside then completed three big passes and almost had a touchdown on a deep ball on third down before DJ Ivey broke it up to force the long field goal attempt.

Younghoe Koo hit the inside of the left upright but the kick was good for the tie. Preseason games don’t go to overtime.

Browning had the much better game of the two quarterbacks that played for Cincinnati, although he had the only turnover. He completed 16 of 22 passes for 140 yards while also rushing four times for 50 yards, and Siemian, who started the game and played the entire first half, completed 7 of 14 passes for 62 yards.

Williams started at right tackle, although coach Zac Taylor had said he didn’t need to see him there in a game before Sept. 10 at Cleveland. The coaching staff wanted to give him some reps since he is coming off knee surgery and switching positions.

The Bengals wrap up the preseason Aug. 26 at Washington.

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