The Washington Football Team trails Cincinnati Bengals, 9-7 at the break. Here are three takeaways from the first two quarters.
1. Defense Bends But Doesn't Break
Cincinnati outgained Washington, 247-125, in the first half yet scored nine points because of two missed field goals, a turnover and a missed extra point.
The Bengals dinked and dunked their way down the field during the opening drive. But after 14 plays, 75 yards and nearly seven minutes off the clock, they came up empty as Randy Bullock's 34-yard field goal hit off the upright.
After Washington took a rare first-quarter lead on its ensuing possession, the Bengals were in position to tie the game with a 1st-and-goal from the 4-yard line. Washington stuffed two straight runs and forced an incompletion, but it appeared Joe Burrow would run for the game-tying touchdown on fourth down. That's when Chase Young met Burrow at the goal line and knocked the ball loose, and Washington recovered the fumble in the end zone for a touchback.
The Bengals ended up scoring a touchdown and a field goal before halftime, but based on their yardage, they should have scored more.
2. Passing Defense Struggles
Washington entered Sunday's game with the No. 1 ranked passing defense (194.7 yards allowed per game). The Bengals exceeded that total in the first two quarters.
Burrow, the reigning No. 1 overall pick, got rid of the ball quickly to a variety of wide receivers. Six Bengals caught a pass -- Tyler Boyd led the team with eight receptions for 71 yards -- as Burrow completed 21 of his 29 passes for 195 yards and a second-quarter touchdown to A.J. Green.
If Washington hopes to hold on for a win in the second half, it will have to do a better job defending the Bengals' air attack.
3. Washington Executes In Red Zone
Washington had multiple chances to put points on the board in the first half against the Detroit Lions, but because to a lack of execution, the offense could only muster three points. There were fewer red zone trips against the Bengals, but Washington did find a way to finish one of its drives.
It started with a contested 42-yard bomb to Terry McLaurin that set Washington up at the Bengal's 20-yard line. Then, facing a 3rd-and-2 at the 12-yard line, tight end Logan Thomas pushed past the marker after originally starting in motion before lining up under center.
Three plays later, Gibson ran into the end zone on a one-yard run that put Washington up 7-0, making it just third time this season that the team held a first-quarter lead. The offense will need to get better at creating those opportunities -- it only managed 32 yards after the touchdown -- but the unit has proven it is capable of finishing chances.