KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Zac Taylor’s first drive as Bengals head coach and play caller couldn’t have been scripted any better in Saturday night’s pre-season opener when quarterback Andy Dalton took the opening kickoff and behind superb pass protection converted all three third downs on a 14-play sojourn through Arrowhead Stadium that ended in rookie running back Trayveon Williams’ one-yard touchdown run 7:15 into the game for a 7-0 lead.
“They did a good job overcoming adversity,” Taylor said. “They were behind the sticks a couple of times with penalties and third-and-longs, but they kept charging ahead. Guys stepped up and made plays, and that’s what we really haven’t had since. We need guys to step up and attack.”
Check out some of the best images from the Bengals' first preseason game in 2019 against the Kansas City Chiefs.
While the offense was plagued by penalties, the defense had trouble tackling in that first half.
On its first snap the defense lost Pro Bowl tight end Travis Kelce when he ran past safety Shawn Williams for 36 yards. Two plays later Williams and linebacker Jordan Evans lost tight end Blake Bell for 23 yards.
When left end Carlos Dunlap lined up offsides, that gave Mahomes three free throws from the Bengals 12 and he made them pay on a mind-blowing 10-yard scramble to set up running back Carlos Hyde’s tying one-yard touchdown.
Mahomes jetted out of the pocket on his scramble and headed to the sideline when nose tackle Andrew Billings’ dive didn’t get him and safety Jessie Bates III let him get away from the sideline for four more yards.
Even after Mahomes went back into his phone booth (or where ever Superman goes these days), the Chiefs got yards from Vanderbilt’s Shurmur and on that second drive he was aided by those missed tackles.
Rookie middle linebacker Germaine Pratt couldn’t finalize a run by Darrell Williams when he wriggled out of the grasp for an extra five yards. The Chiefs scored on Mecole Hardman’s 17-yard jet sweep to the right when linebacker Malik Jefferson got blocked on the edge and Brandon Wilson could get over in time as the Chiefs took a 14-7 lead with 11:45 left into the half.
Kevin Huber’s 50-yard punt pinned the Chiefs on the 2, but the second defense promptly allowed Kansas City to punch out, one on a 14-yard slant to Bell when he got in front of safety Trayvon Henderson and one on a 22-yard lob to tight end John Lovett, a rookie who was a quarterback at Princeton last season. Jefferson had coverage on him, but lost the ball.
Big plays kept leaking into the second half for the Bengals defense as they grappled with the K.C. speed. After Phillips’ botched punt return, it took quarterback Chase Litton just one play to find running back Darwin Thompson beating linebacker Hardy Nickerson out of the backfield over the middle and no one touched else touched him, either, on a 29-yard play that made it 24-7 about three minutes into the second half.
With Driskel still directing the offense, the Bengals cut the lead to 24-10 on rookie Tristan Vizcaino’s 47-yard field goal with about ten minutes left in the third quarter.
In the first half Taylor used all kinds of offensive line combos. Price centered the first and second line. Christian Westerman replaced Jerry at left guard. Veteran swingman Andre Smith played both right and left tackle. With that second group, Smith was teamed with rookie right guard Michael Jordan.
But the penalties kept them behind schedule and made the footing tough. In the middle of the third quarter they had just one more first down after Dalton’s drive.