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Game Preview: Bengals At Washington Football Team

The Bengals lead the preseason series with Washington 6-3-1, including victories in four of their last five meetings.
The Bengals lead the preseason series with Washington 6-3-1, including victories in four of their last five meetings.

Kickoff: 8 p.m. Eastern.

Television: Live coverage on the Bengals Preseason TV Network. The network is led by flagship WKRC-TV (CBS Channel 12) in Cincinnati. Also on the network are WKEF-TV (ABC Ch. 22) in Dayton, WSYX-TV (ABC Ch. 6) in Columbus, WLIO-TV (FOX Ch. 8.2) in Lima, WDKY-TV FOX Ch. 56) in Lexington, Ky. and WDRB-TV (FOX Ch. 41) in Louisville, Ky.

Radio: The game will air on the Bengals Radio Network, led by Cincinnati flagship stations WCKY-AM (ESPN 1530; all sports) and WEBN-FM (102.7).

Setting the scene: The Bengals hit the road again this week to take on the Washington Football Team on Friday night at FedExField. Cincinnati enters the contest 1-0 in preseason, after a 19-14 win over the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Saturday night.

"That's the beauty in the preseason — the chance to see the guys play under the lights," said Bengals head coach Zac Taylor. "It didn't appear to be too big for any of these young guys that we have. Our guys stood out, and that was encouraging to see."

The hot topic entering this week's game is whether or not Bengals QB Joe Burrow will see game action for the first time since last year's season-ending knee injury, which incidentally happened at FedExField. Burrow was medically cleared in time to take the first snap of training camp on July 28, and has participated fully in every practice thus far (save for one scheduled rest day).

But while Burrow was relegated to the sideline in Tampa, his teammates put together strong performances on both sides of the ball. The first-team offense moved the ball with ease early, reaching the red zone on the first series before a lost fumble ended both the possession and the night for most starters. The first team defense also played one possession, and allowed just one first down before their night ended. The first defensive series ended with an exclamation, as Bengals rookie DE Joseph Ossai blew past the Bucs offensive line, which last year allowed the fourth-fewest sacks (22) in the NFL, and took down QB Tom Brady on third down to force a punt.

"It was a six-and-out," Taylor said of his team's first defensive possession. "It was good to get them off the field and finish with a sack. (The Bucs) were making some progress, and then we set them back and got our offense the ball back. That was a good way for those guys to start."

Ossai, Cincinnati's third-round pick in April's draft and the youngest player on the roster (turned 21 in April), was perhaps the star of the game and drew praise from observers for his constant presence in the opposing backfield. But his night ended abruptly late in the third quarter when he left the game after colliding in the backfield with fellow rookie Darius Hodge.

"There were a lot of people on the sideline going, 'Who is that, (No.) 58?'" Taylor said of Ossai's performance. "I heard that a lot. But it was a wrist injury for him, so we will get confirmation soon and see how severe it is."

Cincinnati's defense impressed as a whole against Tampa Bay, recording two INTs, a fumble recovery and four total sacks. Rookies accounted for all of the Bengals' sacks and nine of the team's 13 total QB hits.

"Our defense played with a lot of energy," Taylor said. "You saw the rushing yards they allowed (only 29), and they got after the passer. I was really proud of their energy. We challenged these guys at halftime because we needed turnovers — we were down 3-0 in the turnover battle at the time. And then they came out and got two right away. I was encouraged by what I saw there."

Offensively, a popular storyline throughout training camp has been what the offensive line will look like come Week 1. The most intense competition is at G, where starting spots figure to be up for grabs, and that battle is heating up heading into the second preseason contest.

"We're just letting those guys play," Taylor said. "It's difficult to evaluate their play right away with the naked eye, because it may look like a guard missed his block when you're actually just not sure what was going on internally. You have to watch the tape to really get a good evaluation on those guys."

Washington enters Friday's matchup 0-1 in preseason, after losing 22-13 at New England last Thursday.

The series: The Bengals lead the preseason series with Washington 6-3-1, including victories in four of their last five meetings. The teams last met in preseason in 2019, a 23-13 Bengals win at FedExField.

Of the 10 preseason meetings between the two, six have come in Washington, three in Cincinnati and one in Canton, Ohio. The meeting in Canton occurred on Aug. 2, 1975, and was the Bengals' first appearance in the Hall of Fame Game. The game is famous — or infamous — in Bengals lore, as it was in 105-degree heat. It's believed to be the hottest game conditions ever for any Bengals game. The Redskins won that matchup, 17-9.

In regular-season play, the series is tied 5-5-1. The teams last met in last season, on Nov. 22, 2020, with Washington prevailing 20-9 at FedExField.

The regular-season series includes a pair of decisive results for the Bengals:

  • In the 1988 season finale, at Riverfront Stadium, the Bengals won 20-17 in overtime, finishing 12-4 and clinching the AFC home field advantage for the playoffs. But it took a stroke of good fortune to reach Jim Breech's 20-yard winning field goal 7:01 into OT. On the final play of regulation, Washington K Chip Lohmiller had a 29-yard FG try glance off an upright for a miss. The Bengals went on to win their two home playoff games and advance to Super Bowl XXIII.
  • In Game 15 of 1985, the Bengals traveled to RFK Stadium, fresh off a 50- 24 shelling of Dallas that had Cincinnati tied at 7-7 for the AFC Central lead. The playoffs seemed to beckon when the Bengals took a 24-7 lead, but Washington scored 20 unanswered points to win, 27-24. Washington WR Art Monk caught 13 passes for 230 yards, both figures setting Bengals opponent records at the time. The Bengals' playoff hopes were extinguished prior to their season finale the next week. Their only title hope was in a three-way tie with Pittsburgh and Cleveland, and prior to Cincinnati's finale at New England, a Pittsburgh loss to the N.Y. Giants in a Saturday game clinched the title for Cleveland.

Bengals-Washington connections: Washington CB William Jackson III originally was a first-round pick of the Bengals in 2016, and was with Cincinnati through the '20 season ... Washington QB Ryan Fitzpatrick was with the Bengals from 2007-08 ... Washington CB Torry McTyer was with the Bengals from 2019-20 ... Washington CB Jordan Brown originally was a seventh-round draft pick of the Bengals in 2019 ... Bengals HB Samaje Perine entered the NFL as a fourth-round draft pick of Washington in 2017, and was with the team through '19 preseason ... Washington CB Linden Stephens and S Darrick Forrest both played at the University of Cincinnati; Forrest is from Columbus, Ohio (Walnut Ridge High School) ... Washington WR Curtis Samuel, WR Terry McLaurin and DE Chase Young all played at Ohio State University ... Bengals WR Scotty Washington is from Washington, D.C. (St. John's College High School) ... Bengals LB Keandre Jones is from Olney, Md. (Good Counsel High School), and played at the University of Maryland ... Bengals OT Isaiah Prince is from Greenbelt, Md. (Eleanor Roosevelt High School) ... Bengals G Quinton Spain is from Petersburg, Va. (Petersburg High School) ... Washington G Wes Martin is from West Milton, Ohio (Milton-Union High School) ... Washington LS Camaron Cheeseman is from New Albany, Ohio (Gahanna Lincoln High School) ... Washington C Jon Toth and LB Jamin Davis both played at the University of Kentucky ... Washington quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese coached for the Bengals from 2003-17 (offensive coordinator from '16-17) ... Bengals senior defensive assistant Mark Duffner is from Annandale, Va., played at the College of William and Mary from 1972-74, and was head coach at the University of Maryland from 1992-96 ... Washington assistant offensive line coach Travelle Wharton played for the Bengals in 2012 ... Bengals secondary/cornerbacks coach Steve Jackson coached for Washington from 2004-11 ... Bengals secondary/safeties coach Robert Livingston played at the College of William and Mary from 2007-09 ... Bengals linebackers coach Al Golden coached at the University of Virginia from 1994-96, and 2001-05 ... Washington offensive line coach John Matsko coached at Miami (Ohio) University from 1974-75, and '77 ...Washington linebackers coach Steve Russ coached at Ohio University from 2001-04.

Uniform watch: The Bengals are scheduled to wear white jerseys and black pants (orange stripes) this week at Washington. Cincinnati unveiled new uniforms over the offseason, in what was the team's first significant uniform redesign since 2004.

There are three different color options for the new jerseys — black, white and orange. The pants also feature three different options — black with orange stripes, white with orange stripes, and white with black stripes. The team's iconic striped helmet was unchanged.

Bengals' 19 fourth downs second in NFL history: The Bengals' offense in 2020 successfully converted 19 of its 27 fourth-down attempts, good for a 70.4 percentage that ranked fourth in the NFL.

But while their percentage wasn't historically significant, their league-best 19 fourth-down conversions were. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, whose records on fourth-down conversions go back to 1977, 19 fourth-down conversions is tied for the second-most in a single season in NFL history. That mark also easily outpaces the previous Bengals record of 14, set in 1992 (Bengals records go back to '82).

The Bengals fell just one fourth-down conversion shy of tying the NFL record of 20, set by the 1996 Chicago Bears. But for a moment in time it appeared they had tied the record. In Game 15 at Houston, Cincinnati was driving to break a 24-24 tie when QB Brandon Allen gained the necessary one yard on a fourth-down QB sneak. But Cincinnati was flagged for an illegal formation on the play, which negated the conversion. The Bengals instead settled for a FG and went on to win the game.

Bengals complete QB trifecta: Three different quarterbacks started and won games for the Bengals in 2020 — Joe Burrow, Brandon Allen and Ryan Finley. It marks just the second season in Bengals history that as many QBs have gotten into the win column, joining the 1984 campaign when Ken Anderson, Boomer Esiason and Turk Schonert all did it.

Cincinnati was one of three teams in 2020 to have won games with at least three different starting quarterbacks, joining Washington and San Francisco.

At the top of the list: Here's a look at where the Bengals ranked — both individually and in team categories — among the top 10 in the NFL in 2020.


  • Fourth in fourth-down percentage (70.4; 19 of 27).


  • Sixth in lowest opponent completion percentage (62.8).


  • Tied for sixth in passes defensed (15).


  • Tied for third in defensive fumble recoveries (two).


  • Sixth in average drive start on offense (26.4-yard line).
  • Sixth in average yards allowed per punt return (5.9).


  • Tied for longest punt (72).
  • Seventh in net punting average (42.8).
  • Seventh in gross punting average (47.2).


  • Tied for second in kickoff returns of at least 40 yards

Hubbard a Day 2 draft steal: DE Sam Hubbard, a third-round pick (77th overall) of the Bengals in 2018, ranks third in sacks (16.5) among all players from the '18 rookie class (draft picks and college free agents).

Players' listed positions vary from media outlet to media outlet (e.g. whether a player is classified as a LB or DE), but according to's draft record, Hubbard was the 13th defensive lineman selected in 2018 — five DEs and seven DTs came off the board before him. According to, there were a total of 40 defensive linemen (20 DEs, 20 DTs) selected in the 2018 draft, along with 32 linebackers and one player classified as "EDGE." There were also, of course, numerous undrafted rookies in 2018.

Hubbard has been the Bengals' starting RDE since 2019, and signed a contract extension with the Bengals in July that keeps him in Cincinnati through the end of the 2025 season.

Bengals leaned on 2020 rookies: Despite the lack of an offseason program to ease the college-to-pro adjustment, the Bengals in 2020 leaned heavily upon their draft class. The seven players drafted by Cincinnati in April combined to play in 96 games, with 33 starts. For perspective, the most combined games played by a Bengals draft class since 1994 (the year the draft went to seven rounds) is 99, achieved by the 11-player draft class of 2017. The most combined starts over the same period is 50, by the nine-player draft class of 1998.

Bengals' picks stay in stripes: A useful measurement of talent evaluation in the draft is the ability of a team's picks to make their own active roster. The Bengals are among the best in the NFL in that category.

At the end of the 2020 regular season, there were 26 players on Cincinnati's roster who entered the NFL as Bengals draft picks. That total was tied for seventh in the NFL. It should also be noted that Cincinnati had eight players on Reserve/Injured who were Bengals draft picks.