Springboro grad scores as Bengals beat Rams in preseason finale

CINCINNATI -- Springboro High School graduate Justin Rigg’s first and only catch of his first NFL preseason went for a touchdown and the only one of the day for the Cincinnati Bengals in their preseason finale.

Rigg, an undrafted free agent out of the University of Kentucky trying to earn a job, hauled in a 3-yard touchdown pass from third-string quarterback Jake Browning late in the fourth quarter to add some cushion as the Bengals beat the L.A. Rams 16-7 on Saturday at Paycor Stadium in a “battle of the backups” Super Bowl rematch.

The 6-foot-6 tight end has gotten plenty of opportunities in practices while Drew Sample and Mitchell Wilcox have missed time with injuries but he didn’t have a single target in the first two preseason games. With a cheering section of about 35 family members and friends, Rigg enjoyed his moment to shine in the Bengals’ lone win of the preseason.

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“Right when I heard the play call, I knew that I had a chance to get the ball and I saw that I had the leverage and when I broke out, I saw the ball,” Rigg said. “It was just a shocking feeling at first and, you know, I got to work on the celebration a little bit, but I’m excited that I got to have that, especially with so much family here, close, and just pretty exciting feeling.”

Up until Rigg’s touchdown, the one starter that played for the Bengals had accounted for all of his team’s scoring while the offense’s red zone efficiency continued to be a problem. Cincinnati, which struggled in the red zone last year, went 1-for-4 in those situations Saturday, striking out on the first three attempts to set up three seemingly easy field goals for Evan McPherson.

McPherson made all three kicks, under 40 yards each, to give the Bengals a 9-0 lead going into halftime.

The Rams didn’t get on the board until the fourth quarter when third-string quarterback Bryce Perkins ran in for a 3-yard touchdown to make it a two-point game with 11:25 left after the PAT.

Cincinnati, which went 1-2 in the preseason, drove 75 yards on 13 plays to extend its lead for the final score.

Saturday’s game was the last chance for players to make their pitch for roles with the team ahead of final roster cuts, due to be made by 4 p.m. Tuesday. Offensively, the starting positions have been set for a while now except the left guard job, which Cordell Volson seems to have won, as he didn’t play. Jackson Carman had the entire game to make his case but had a pair of penalties and one missed block that led to a sack.

Rigg seems on the outside looking in, but was happy to at least get a chance to put something on film for other teams to see if it doesn’t work out with the Bengals.

The defensive side had some strong moments as well.

Trayvon Henderson forced a fumble on Jake Funk at the 5-yard line early in the second quarter, and the Bengals recovered to make up for his dropped interception earlier in the game. Cincinnati drove down and for the second straight attempt couldn’t convert in the red zone, but McPherson made a 39-yard field goal for his longest kick of the day.

The Bengals could have given him a chance at a 60-yarder in the third quarter but opted to let the punter battle take precedence as Kevin Huber and Drue Chrisman traded opportunities.

Zach Carter forced a fumble on a sack of Perkins in the third quarter but the Rams recovered. Cornerback Delonte Hood recovered a fumble later in the period.

Browning finished with 173 yards passing to lead the Bengals’ two backup quarterbacks, after replacing Brandon Allen in the second quarter. Trenton Irwin had nine catches for 93 yards, and Kendric Pryor finished with 65 yards on five receptions.

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