Vontaze Burfict enjoys the moment.
LANDOVER, Md. - The Bengals' young pass rushers didn't back down in Sunday's 23-17 pre-season loss to Washington that was typified by draft picks Carl Lawson and Jordan Willis meeting at backup quarterback Colt McCoy for Wills' third sack of the year in the second half with a sack in every game.
Willis, a third-round pick, also forced McCoy to fumble on the play. Lawson, a fourth-round pick who sat out last week with a shoulder injury, registered his first NFL sack against no less than five-time Pro Bowl tackle Trent Williams.
"We knew this week they had two good tackles in Trent and Moses (Morgan)," said veteran end Chris Smith. "And we wanted to make a statement."
The torrid Smith, who came into the game with two sacks and 11 pressures, kept talking on the first third down on the game's third play when defensive coordinator Paul Guenther threw in an immediate wrinkle by moving Smith inside to tackle and putting Wallace Gilberry at end and the two worked a stunt for Smith's third sack of the year. But it was not as "beautiful," as the one from Willis.
"We're going to watch that one on film and be happy," Lawson said. "That was a beautiful rush. Taking my tackle and pushing him into the pocket and getting a sack with the edge rush. Speed to power. You can't ask for plays like that. That was a beautiful play."
TEZ TD: Naturally, cerebral Vontaze Burfict had seen the play in film study. Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins looking quickly to the sideline for running back Chris Thompson on third down. Sixty-two yards later Burfict had a pick, a touchdown, and an end zone view from the seats as the Bengals jumped to a 14-3 lead with 11:18 left in the first half.
And there was the stiff arm of Cousins as Burfict finished off the pick-six.
"I wasn't going to get caught by the quarterback," Burfict said. "When I was 10 yards (from) in, I was like, 'I'll slow down and give him a stiff-arm. So I switched the ball in my hand and gave him a stiff-arm."
Burfict had Cousins' number the whole play and actually baited him into the throw.
"I tried to act like (Thompson) was open and then at the last second I saw his arm cock and I took my chance," said Burfict, who thought Thompson was going to take the route up field. "I thought he was going to run a wheel (route). Then when I saw his shoulders turn to the sideline, he looked back at the quarterback. I tried not to bait (Cousins) too much because he'd catch the ball."
Burfict leaped into the front row and his mates lifted him out as he waved to the crowd.
"I was so tired I was ready to go take a seat," Burfict said. "Just enjoying the moment."
He really enjoyed later in the game, when he was cleared in concussion protocol.
POINT GUARD: The Bengals' first offense scored its first touchdown of the preseason when quarterback Andy Dalton distributed the ball to six different players on the 15-play, 87-yard drive to open the game for them with 55 yards passing and 32 rushing. It included first-round pick John Ross running a jet sweep for eight yards on his first NFL snap at the wide receiver spot.
"That's the thing we talked about during the week," Dalton said. "We've got these guys. Let's spread the ball around and get different guys involved. Different guys made plays. That's what you need."
Running back Jeremy Hill, who left with an ankle injury, scored the touchdown on a wide-open three-yard run made possible by the pulling blocks of tight end Ryan Hewitt and left tackle Cedric Ogbuehi.
But it was rookie running back Joe Mixon that made the eye-popping run, a six-yard swing-and-miss by cornerback Josh Norman.
"It was actually a three-way go," Mixon said. "I could have went through him. I could have went around him. I could have gone over him. I was just trying to make him miss in space. Trying for the touchdown. It's going to come."
Mixon committed the Bengals' first fumble of the preseason when he and Dalton couldn't connect on a handoff. Mixon said he'd have to see the film to see how it happened. Head coach Marvin Lewis sounded like he already had.
"He has to secure it," Lewis said.
Cincinnati Bengals take on the Washington Redskins in week 3 of the preseason.