Having led one touchdown drive in his last six preseason games, Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton led the team into the end zone on back-to-back series Saturday night against the Tennessee Titans.
After gaining 19 yards and losing a fumble on the opening series, Dalton drove the Bengals 72 yards in eight plays and 61 yards in 12 plays before calling it a night and watching the rest of the team’s 27-19 victory from the sidelines.
“I think we were a little bit hungry tonight,” said Dalton, who guided the offense for 51 yards and three first downs in the preseason opener at Atlanta on Aug. 8.
“After last week, we wanted to put points on the board with the ‘ones’ in there,” Dalton added. “So we go out of this game feeling a little better than last week.”
Dalton completed 9 of 14 passes for 115 yards, including a 2-yard touchdown pass to Mohamed Sanu. The duo also had a 25-yard TD overturned by replay when Sanu was ruled out at the 1, but rookie running back Giovani Bernard dove on the next play for his second score in as many games.
Bernard, who got the start for the idle BenJarvus Green-Ellis, also had a big night, carrying seven times for 37 yards to go along with a 22-yard gain on a screen pass.
“The positive that sticks out with me is the offense,” Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said. “We made plays. We converted some third downs. We ran and passed well at times. The only negative was the turnover, but our defense did a nice job with that sudden change.”
The turnover came on the Bengals’ fifth offensive snap when Tennessee defensive tackle Jurrell Casey beat right guard Kevin Zeitler and ripped the ball from Dalton’s hands to set the Titans up at the Cincinnati 27.
But the Bengals defense forced a three-and-out, and Tennessee kicker Rob Bironas missed a 38-yard field goal wide left. That would be the first of three consecutive misses for the Titans, with Bironas pushing a 37-yarder wide right, followed by Maikon Bonani going wide right from 47.
“It’s always great to turn a team away without points when you’re given up a turnover in your own end,” Bengals cornerback Terence Newman said. “It’s also good, of course, that we forced them to settle for field goal tries. But they got some of those tries after moving the ball downfield on us a little bit, so we can’t feel totally good about our performance.”
And the second and third teams can’t feel good at all after allowing the Titans to score both of their touchdowns in the second half.
Offensively, the Bengals’ second and third teams were solid for a second week in a row.
Running back Dan Herron carried nine times for 81 yards, including a 40-yard touchdown, as the Bengals rushed for 193 yards. And wide receiver Brandon Tate caught three balls for a team-high 48 yards.
In the backup quarterback battle, Josh Johnson was 5 of 7 for 73 yards, although he did lose a fumble trying to make a play on third down inside the Tennessee 10-yard line late in the game when a field goal would have iced it. He finished with 27 yards rushing.
John Skelton was 5 of 10 for 59 yards.
The Bengals take their 2-0 record to Dallas on Saturday.