Updated: 8-25-13, 12:20 a.m.
ARLINGTON, Texas — The Bengals had an uneasy first half Saturday night as their league-leading offense turned it over twice on third down that included quarterback
Lewis didn't like the scent of this one after two crisp victories to open the preseason. Not with four turnovers, seven penalties and the Cowboys converting 55 percent on third down with nine-for-16.
The first-team offense went no-huddle for
Dalton and Green tried to hook up on their signature fade from the Dallas 10 as Green caught the ball over the DB and got one foot in-bounds in the corner but he couldn't get his other heel down.
"Toe-heel doesn't count," Green said. "I've got to learn to get the toe down and fall out of bounds."
On the next snap tight end
"There were some bright spots during the game," Lewis said. "We did some things well. But not enough long enough."
The Cowboys first offense scored its first two touchdowns of the season on third-down passes and took a 14-7 halftime lead as quarterback Tony Romo bedeviled the Bengals on third down, converting five of nine in the half. He finished the half 13-of-18 passing for 137 yards against the first secondary missing third cornerback
Kirkpatrick committed two pass interference penalties in the half (naturally on third down in sticking with the theme of the night) and on third-and-goal from the 5 when Romo floated a back-shoulder throw to wide receiver Dez Bryant, Bryant outmuscled Kirkpatrick for the touchdown that tied at seven with left 12:35 in the second quarter.
Romo, hitting his first nine passes, hooked up with Bryant early in the drive when Kirkpatrick gave him too much cushion and Bryant skated to the first down after the catch on the sidelines. Bryant didn't just dish it to Kirkpatrick. He made cornerback
"This is a good learning tool," said linebacker
Bryant was immense with six catches for 54 yards, but it was wide receiver Miles Austin that strafed the Bengals in the second touchdown drive. After Kirkpatrick kept the drive alive on a pass interference penalty on a third-and-three from the 50, Austin caught a 23-yard pass on third-and-six when the Bengals ran a zone blitz and right end
Then on third-and-10 from the Bengals 12, Romo stepped up in the pocket and hit Austin running across the back of the end zone with safety
"Darrin always tells us that nothing good happens for the punt team on a re-kick, and we made them pay," Tate said of Bengals special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons. "I give all the credit to the other 10 guys out there with me. Everybody blocked it perfectly, and all I had to do was find the hole and shoot through it. Nobody really had a good shot at me.”
The Bengals started Saturday night the way they've led the NFL in offense this preseason and drove the ball down the field on Dallas. But they couldn't score on the first drive when wide receiver
Dalton, completing his fourth straight third down pass dating back to last week, hit Jones on a quick square out over the middle on third-and-11. But with Jones fighting for more yards, safety Barry Church ripped it out of Jones's hands.
"I thought Andy did a good job. I thought he handled things pretty well," Lewis said. "He didn't have enough snaps in the first half so we brought hm back to get him some snaps in the third quarter and he was pretty efficient."
Dalton hit his first six passes for 54 yards, two of them to Green in his first game of the season and finished 12-of-16 for 113 yards. Green and Dalton looked to be on the same page with a crisp out route for seven yards to get a first down on second-and-six.
“I felt good. I felt 100 percent. It’s great to be back out there," Green said. "It seemed like a long time since I got hurt, but I knew I’d be back in plenty of time.”
When the Bengals got the ball back, they weren't nearly as crisp. Marvin Jones committed a false start and Dalton's pass over the middle to Gresham was well defended by cornerback Brandon Carr. Then on third-and-15, Dalton had time but his throw over the middle to wide receiver
Dalton: "They were in two man and we tried to get a shot down the middle and to get a shot down the middle. I might have been late on it. The guy made a good play."
“We came out right away on offense and did a good job of moving the ball, but obviously the two turnovers are killers," Lewis said. "You can do a lot of good things, but turnovers will take it all away.
“Defensively, you don’t want to give up the scores, but we did get to stay out there for a lot of plays. We needed that. The defensive players needed to get their wind under them. The drives were long ones, but you’ve got to make the play to get off the field.”
Early in the second half the Bengals second-team defenders got a chance a chance to go against the bulk of the Cowboys starters led by veteran quarterback Kyle Orton. The Bengals gave up a 14-play touchdown drive that took 9:11 and was punctuated by three missed tackles by Kirkpatrick, safety
Bengals backup quarterback
The Cowboys responded with their own long drive (14 plays, 79 yards) that ended with a 26-yard Dan Bailey field goal that upped the Dallas lead to 24-18 with 0:52 left. Then a 53-yard
The Bengals are expected to make cuts Sunday since they have to be down from 87 to 75 by Tuesday. One player that doesn't figure to get cut is quarterback
PREGAME NOTES: Left tackle
Same with left end
Two-time Pro Bowl wide receiver A.J. Green was expected to start his first game of the preseason after bruising his right knee on the first day of camp.
Other scratches included three players that have yet to practice in camp, running back
In the wake of offseason surgery to relieve pain in his knee by removing scar tissue, Whitworth looked to be on target to make his season debut against Dallas as one of the tuneups for the Sept. 8 regular-season opener.
After returning to practice about 10 days ago, Whitworth took some time off last week but still indicated he could play after suiting up Thursday.
After Whitworth practiced for the first three days of training camp and then was backed off, he indicated he wouldn't need to get many snaps to get ready for the season.
"I understand how to play, I know what I am good at and I have done it for a long time. Do I need to practice? I don't know, if you are coming back from surgery and you are going to push something a little too fast it becomes not a need because now you are doing more damage then you are doing positive," Whitworth said. "It's going to be just making sure that as the doctor keeps telling me, we have plenty of track record that you are tough. It's not a tough thing, you need to take care of yourself. It's kind of getting in that mentality and trying to figure out the fine line in between that so you have steps back and you are going to have to have days where it's going to adjust and you are going to have to adjust with it. We'll figure out a way to make that happen."
Making his 2013 debut is second-year defensive tackle