The Washington Football Team won their first game of the 2021 preseason on Friday night, as they defeated the Cincinnati Bengals 17-13. Just nine total points were scored in the first half, as Washington's defense controlled the pace of the game for the majority of the matchup. Ryan Fitzpatrick didn't have a great night, as he completed 7 of 13 passes for 96 yards, almost threw a bad interception and missed a touchdown throw. Ups and downs are expected from this veteran gunslinger, but Washington is hoping for more ups than downs come the regular season. With Joe Burrow out, Brandon Allen got the start for the Bengals and he played into the third quarter. He completed 8 of 17 passes for 70 yards and rushed in a touchdown on the opening drive of the second half.
There weren't many highlights from this matchup, but both the starters and backups for these squad got valuable reps as we inch closer to the regular season. Now, let's dive deeper into what happened in this matchup.
Why Washington won
We could easily chalk this win up to Washington's defense, but Jaret Patterson deserves our game ball. The rookie running back who went undrafted out of Buffalo led Washington in rushing and receiving last week, but really had a breakout performance on Friday night. Patterson rushed for 71 yards on 16 carries, punched in the game-winning score and caught three passes for 25 yards. He also returned one kick for 37 yards.
The 5-foot-8 unit showed off his extraordinary vision, and always kept his feet churning to push forward for extra yards as bodies bounced off of him. He sees things before they happen, and there's a spot on the 53-man roster for him.
Why the Bengals lost
The offense just couldn't get anything going all night save the opening drive of the second half. While Cincy was down just three points at the halftime break, look at some of these stats: The Bengals recorded just two first downs in the first two quarters. The offense went 0-for-6 on third downs and Cincinnati recorded just 55 yards of total offense on 22 plays run. Allen threw for just 28 yards in the first half. Things didn't change much in the final quarters, as the Bengals finished with 214 yards of total offense. Even Washington's second- and third-string defensive front showed out, as it kept pressure on Cincy's backup quarterbacks. Kyle Shurmur lost a fumble on a strip sack and Eric Dungey completed just 3 of 6 passes for 14 yards.
Ja'Marr Chase struggles
This was not a reason the Bengals lost, but it's a topic that's going to be discussed this week. Cincinnati's first-round pick struggled on Friday night, as he dropped all three of his targets. It's nothing to overreact to, but this wasn't the showing Zac Taylor and his staff wanted to see.
"We just gotta continue to work on it every single day. It's key that our receivers do a great job focusing, catching the ball," Taylor said after the game, via ESPN's Ben Baby. "He's getting better every day at a lot of the other details that maybe go unnoticed. So we'll just keep looking for improvement there."
The Bengals' eight-play, 64-yard touchdown drive to open the second half looked like it was going to be a turning point, but Washington's second-team offense answered the bell. Taylor Heinicke led a drive which resulted in a field goal on Washington's next possession to cut the lead to just one point, and then this happened.
From there, Kyle Allen led a six-play, 32-yard drive which resulted in what was the game-winning touchdown.
Play of the game
The Bengals did not show off their offensive prowess on Friday night, but they did have the play of the game. Washington's Troy Apke, who is usually a safety, lined up at cornerback in this matchup, and he was the victim of this circus catch made by Auden Tate.
"That's what you're looking for. You're looking for those guys that step up and make plays."
Ron Rivera on Patterson, via Nicki Jhabvala of The Washington Post.
The Bengals close out the preseason in Cincinnati next Sunday against the Miami Dolphins, while Washington plays host to the Baltimore Ravens next Saturday night.