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NFL Preview - Cincinnati (1-1) at Washington (1-1)



By Lyle Fitzsimmons, Contributing NFL Editor

(Sports Network) - Winning one of two games is surely better than none. But that doesn't mean all is sunshine and roses for the Cincinnati Bengals heading into Week 3.

The team lost by a 44-13 score at Baltimore in Week 1 before bouncing back to for a 34-27 defeat of Cleveland in its second go-round, but the bottom line of 71 points allowed by the Bengals through two games isn't sitting well with the guys who get paid to stop the other teams.

And with early-season phenom Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins next up on the opponents list, it's genuine cause for uneasiness as Cincinnati heads to FedEx Field for this Sunday's contest.

"We got the win (against Cleveland), but we weren't happy," Bengals cornerback Leon Hall said. "Getting the first of the year is big, but like anything else, you want to play well individually and as a defense. Obviously you are happy, but at the same time you realize things aren't as good as they seem, coming off a win and that you've got a lot of room to improve."

Cincinnati's average of 434.5 yards allowed per game is 30th in the league, well off the stingy pace of 316.3 yards per game the team set last season. Not helping matters is the loss of linebacker Thomas Howard -- last season's leading tackler -- to a torn ACL suffered at practice last week.

Defensive end Jamaal Anderson then went on injured reserve Tuesday after a sustaining a torn quadriceps tendon against Cleveland. However, fellow end Carlos Dunlap could play after a knee problem kept him out the first two weeks.

"I know that we are a better defense than we've been showing," Cincinnati defensive lineman Domata Peko said. "I think we've just got to settle down. It seems like everybody's eyes have been too wide open, like a deer in the headlights."

The Redskins haven't been immune to the injury bug themselves.

Two-time Pro Bowl linebacker Brian Orakpo and defensive end Adam Carriker also went on injured reserve following Washington's 31-28 Week 2 loss to St. Louis. Orakpo tore the pectoral muscle near his left shoulder and Carriker tore a tendon in his right knee, weakening a unit that allowed 452 yards against the Rams.

"It's an opportunity for somebody else now," linebacker London Fletcher said. "We're a no-excuse football team."

Rob Jackson and Chris Wilson will take up Orakpo's time at linebacker, with second-year pro Jarvis Jenkins stepping in for Carriker. Safety Brandon Meriweather may also be available after a knee injury sidelined him for the first two weeks.

"When somebody's injured, we shouldn't have a drop-off," Jenkins said. "That's what everybody gets coached for, it's why everybody goes to training camp. It's why our defensive line coach (Jacob Burney) coaches everybody the same, because once one guy goes down, somebody has to step up."

Meanwhile, the Redskins went south in terms of maturity with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that proved costly against the Rams. Wide receiver Josh Morgan threw the ball at cornerback Cortland Finnegan after making a catch in the final seconds, leaving the Redskins with a fourth-and-16 situation at the St. Louis 44-yard line.

One snap later, kicker Billy Cundiff missed a potential game-tying 62-yard field goal.

"You can't lose your poise," Washington head coach Mike Shanahan said. "You lose your poise, obviously good things don't happen."

Griffin and Morgan connected five times for 50 yards against the Rams, part of the rookie quarterback's second-game effort of 20-of-29 completions for 206 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He also ran for 82 yards and scored twice on the ground.

Wide receiver Pierre Garcon caught four passes for 109 yards in Washington's 40-32 win at New Orleans in Week 1 before missing the second game with an injured foot. He was limited in this week's practices and is questionable to go against the Bengals.

Garcon's absence didn't help matters for Griffin, who nonetheless has taken it upon himself to reverse the result from last week.

"I didn't make enough plays to help the team, and that's the bottom line,? Griffin said. "You're judged on wins and losses and we lost the game, so I didn't play well enough."

SERIES HISTORY

Series tied, 4-4

Streak: Bengals have won last two meetings Last Meeting: Bengals 20, Redskins 13 (Dec. 14, 2008 at Cincinnati) Last Meeting at Site: Bengals 17, Redskins 10 (Nov. 14, 2004)

Bengals HC Marvin Lewis vs. Redskins: 2-0 Redskins HC Mike Shanahan vs. Bengals: 6-3 overall, 0-0 with Washington Lewis vs. Shanahan Head-to-Head: Shanahan leads, 2-1

Notes: Bengals are making only their second visit to Washington since 1985 and had lost their first three road tests in the series prior to their 2004 win at FedEx Field. Redskins last defeated the Bengals on Sept. 22, 1991, a 34-27 triumph in Cincinnati. Shanahan posted a 5-2 mark against the Bengals during his 14-year tenure in Denver from 1995-2008 and split a pair of matchups with Cincinnati while piloting the Los Angeles Raiders from 1988-89. Lewis was Washington's defensive coordinator in 2002 before becoming Bengals' head coach.

BY THE NUMBERS

Offensive Team Rankings

Cincinnati: 18th overall (348.5 ypg), 16th rushing (104.5 ypg), 16th passing (244.0 ypg), 16th scoring (23.5 ppg)

Washington: 4th overall (416.0 ypg), 4th rushing (164.5 ypg), 11th passing (251.5 ypg), 1st scoring (34.0 ppg)

Defensive Team Rankings

Cincinnati: 30th overall (434.5 ypg), 19th rushing (126.0 ypg), 29th passing (308.5 ypg), 29th scoring (35.5 ppg)

Washington: 28th overall (405.0 ypg), 10th rushing (91.5 ypg), 30th passing (313.5 ypg), 27th scoring (31.5 ppg)

Turnover Margin

Cincinnati: -2 (1 takeaway, 3 giveaways) Washington: +5 (6 takeaways, 1 giveaway)

Red Zone Touchdown Percentage (offense)

Cincinnati: 33.3 percent (6 possessions, 2 TD, 4 FG) -- 27th overall Washington: 71.4 percent (7 possessions, 5 TD, 2 FG) -- tied 4th overall

Red Zone Touchdown Percentage (defense)

Cincinnati: 75.0 percent (4 possessions, 3 TD, 1 FG) -- tied 27th overall Washington: 37.5 percent (8 possessions, 3 TD, 4 FG) -- tied 7th overall

WHEN THE BENGALS HAVE THE BALL

Though he'll take a backseat to Griffin in the phenom quarterback department on Sunday, Cincinnati's Andy Dalton tied a career high with three touchdowns passes last week and posted a career-best 128.2 passer rating as well. He is 3-1 in his career against the NFC, while the Bengals are 4-1 when his rating reaches three digits. Formerly of New England, running back and offseason addition BenJarvus Green-Ellis has seven touchdowns in his last eight games against NFC opponents and 12 scores in his last 18 games overall. On the outside, wide receiver A.J. Green caught his first touchdown pass of the season last week, while counterpart Andrew Hawkins had a 50-yard catch for his first score as a Bengal. Also scoring for the first time in a Cincinnati uniform against the Browns was wide receiver Brandon Tate. At tight end, Jermaine Gresham has 10 touchdown catches in his three-year career.

For the Redskins' defense, cornerback Josh Wilson returned a fumble 30 yards for a touchdown last week against the Rams, and he's also scored four times on either interception or kick returns during his career. Veteran linebacker Fletcher had an interception against St. Louis as well.

WHEN THE REDSKINS HAVE THE BALL

Though his win/loss record fell to .500 after Week 2, Griffin has been nothing but a difference-maker so far for the Redskins, leading all NFL rookies and placing fourth overall in the league with a 111.6 passer rating while completing 39-of-55 throws for 526 yards, three touchdowns and a single interception. He's the first rookie since 1969 with a passing touchdown of 65 or more yards in each of his first two games and also leads all quarterbacks with 124 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Speaking of rookie playmakers, running back Alfred Morris has a league-best 185 rushing yards for first-year players and is tied with Griffin with a rookie-best two scores. Against St. Louis, he and Griffin became the first quarterback/running back duo to each have 80 rushing yards since 1958. Among the receiving options, wideout Leonard Hankerson had a 68-yard touchdown catch against the Rams, the first of his career. Former Colt Garcon had eight catches in his most recent meeting with Cincinnati, which came while with Indianapolis last October, while veteran Santana Moss had seven catches for 72 yards and a score the last time he faced the Bengals. Moss is one of nine active players with 9,000 career receiving yards as well. Griffin's passes for wideout Aldrick Robinson through the first two games have resulted in six first downs, and 11 Redskins have at least one reception in all this year.

On defense, Cincinnati linebacker Rey Maualuga has broken out to take the club lead in tackles with 15 through two weeks, while end Michael Johnson had both a sack and a fumble recovery last week. Cornerback Terence Newman had nine career interceptions against Washington during his days with the Dallas Cowboys - his most against any team.

OVERALL ANALYSIS

The Bengals showed some mettle last week in bouncing back from the big Week 1 loss, but a recovery against the not-very-highly-thought-of Browns isn't exactly an elixir for all ills. With the dangerous and dynamic Griffin sure to make at least a non-scripted play or two, a Cincinnati unit that's been taxed for 71 points already might be in for a bit too much on the opponent's home field. Expect the rookie to make just enough plays to make it happen.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Redskins 30, Bengals 20

09/20 09:05:21 ET

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