The Bengals first defense is unscored upon after the first two preseason games.
On Saturday night in a 19-14 victory in Tampa Bay, it was six snaps that included a sack of The GOAT.
On Friday night in a 17-13 loss in Washington, it was 14 plays and a sack of FitzMagic, not to mention a fourth-and-one stop by highly touted free agent defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi on the Washington 23 and another pressure by unheralded rookie free agent edge rusher Darius Hodge for his sixth quarterback pressure of the season.
And with head coach Zac Taylor indicating that's the most work the starters are going to get before the Sept. 12 opener against the Vikings at Paul Brown Stadium, that may be pretty much it.
After they gave Fitzpatrick 28 yards on the game's first snap when he flipped it five yards to wide open tight end Logan Thomas, that was pretty much it.
"We got critical stuff from our defense," said Taylor, noting both the fourth-down stop and turnover came on the fringes of the red zone. "Aside from that first play, I thought they really did a nice job. Zero points. That's the only thing that matters. Two games in a row. Zero points. That's all I really care about."
_Rookie defensive lineman Cam Sample, four more tackles in a second straight strong outing, left with what Taylor called a minor shoulder injury early in the fourth quarter.
_Another big night for fifth-round kicker Evan McPherson, whose 50-yard missile in the fourth quarter was drilled with ease.
_After starting veteran Xavier Su'a-Filo at right guard in place of Michael Jordan, Taylor said he doesn't have starting guards yet. After the first offense took 11 snaps, Jordan went to left guard and rookie Jackson Carman was at right guard for pretty much the second and third quarters.Both played 28 snaps, 50 percent of the plays. The question he'll have is if those 11 snaps, with two penalties and one first down, are enough for the first team to take into the opener or if he wants to give them work in eight days in the preseason finale.
Taylor tried to run the ball against Washington's vaunted first-round defensive line with each group in the first two quarters, but came out of it with just three yards per carry on nine first-half rushes.
"It's a competition. It's going to continue to evolve each game, each practice," Taylor said. "I don't even look at who's going out there with the starters necessarily. We evaluate all their play inside. What's the benefit for us going forward. I thought there were some good things we did in the run game. It's not going to be easy against that front. That's why it's important to keep that drive going. We get some momentum and then get some runs on them. We had some opportunities in that run game, we just didn't get enough of them."
_Tough night for first-round pick Ja'Marr Chase. It appeared all three first-team drives ended on third-down throws he could have caught. Chase, the fifth pick in the draft, has been, at times, spectacular this training camp. He's also had his share of drops.
Quarterback Brandon Allen, who threw him all three, has no worries about his top five talent.
"I talked to Ja'Marr, he's a good player. He's still getting his feet wet with the game experience in the NFL," Allen said. "I've seen him make some unbelievable plays in practice that will translate well. It will. He'll make the easy ones and he'll make some spectacular ones as well. I'm not worried about him. I know what he can do and what he will do once he gets going."
_Taylor says he has yet to make a call on Joe Burrow's status for the Aug. 29 preseason finale against Miami at Paul Brown Stadium.
"_Taylor on Chase: "We just have to keep working on it. It's key our receivers do a great job focusing on catching the ball. He's getting better every day in a lot of the other details that maybe go unnoticed. We'll just keep looking improvement there."
_When the NFL's COVID protocols sidelined Bengals radio analyst Dave Lapham, Friday night marked the first time since early in Ronald Reagan's second term he watched a Bengals game from his home.
Pro Football Hall of Famer Anthony Munoz also had to stay at home because of the protocols and was replaced on the Channel 12 broadcast with Mike Watts by NFL analyst Brian Baldinger. Dan Hoard was joined on the Bengals Radio Network by the voice of the Buckeyes Paul Keels in a velvet pairing of Ohio's most popular play-by-play artists.
Lapham, one of the top 50 players in franchise history, has been in the radio booth since 1986 and when he has missed game it was because he was working other assignments.
But those are few and far between.
"A little different, no doubt," said Lapham, press releases and depth charts spread about in his home in the Kings Island suburbs as he got ready for the kickoff in Washington. "Yeah, I prepped a little like I was still going to do the game. No reason to catch up. Watch it live."
Lapham, a Super Bowl guard who is the most versatile offensive linemen in Bengals history, of course, had his eye on the offensive line's matchup with Washington's front four of first-rounders.
"That's obviously a good measuring stick with four first-round draft picks across from you. A lot of people have them rated at the top of the league," Lapham said. "You find out where you stand. See where the techniques are you're talking about with targeting, hand placement, foot work. See how it translates going in against a pretty good group. It will be for about a quarter. You still get a good feel where you are and where you need to get to."