The scares started before the game did Sunday night as three Cincinnati Bengals Pro Bowl players suffered injuries in Jacksonville.
Cornerback Adam Jones strained his calf during pregame warmups, wide receiver A.J. Green suffered a right knee injury in the first quarter and running back/special teams stalwart Cedric Peerman exited with a left forearm fracture in the second quarter of the team’s 26-21 loss to the Jaguars.
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Neither the Jones nor Green injuries appeared serious, and a Bengals spokesman said Green simply “banged up his knee” and would have remained in if it was a regular-season game.
“I’m fine,” Green said during a halftime interview with NBC. “It sucks because I wanted to play longer. Not serious at all. I’m fine.”
The injury issues weren’t the only preseason trend that continued for the Bengals as the first-team defense turned in another strong performance as it played the entire first half.
On the defense’s first series of the game, Rey Maualuga forced a fumble that Vinny Rey recovered and returned 16 yards to the Jacksonville 22, setting up the first Bengals touchdown on a 19-yard screen pass from Andy Dalton to Giovani Bernard.
Two consecutive three-and-outs followed, and Dalton and the offense capitalized on the second one with a 16-play, 69-yard drive that Jeremy Hill capped with a 1-yard touchdown run for a 14-0 lead.
In six first-half series, the Cincinnati defense held Jacksonville to 90 total yards, 66 of which came on a six-play drive that ended with a Sam Ficken 29-yard field goal ricocheted off the left upright.
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In 10 series this preseason, the Bengals starters have allowed 221 yards and six points with two sacks, two forced fumbles and a recovery.
Both field goals allowed by the first-team defense have come after the opponent had first and goal at the 5-yard line.
While the starting defense played the entire first half, Dalton was in for just three series, completing 6 of 10 passes for 77 yards and a touchdown. In six drives this preseason, Dalton has led the Bengals to three touchdowns.
McCarron added a 21-yard scoring pass to Alex Erickson on the opening drive of the third quarter to up the lead to 21-3 before the Jaguars scored 23 unanswered points to win the game.