WASHINGTON — Andy Dalton and the Cincinnati Bengals’ starters shrugged off a rough start to the preseason to finish exactly the way they wanted.

Dalton was 8 of 13 for 70 yards and Cincinnati’s first-team offense and defense looked sharp against Washington on Sunday as the Redskins won 23-17 on the strength of their backups. A.J. Green had four catches for 43 yards, Jeremy Hill ran for 15 yards and the Bengals regulars’ first exhibition touchdown before his day was cut short with an ankle injury.

“We just executed,” Green said. “Once we’re clicking on all cylinders and everybody getting their touches, we can be a dangerous offense.”

And a dangerous defense, too.

Linebacker Vontaze Burfict intercepted Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins’ pass and returned it for a touchdown, stiff-arming the quarterback at the end zone and jumping into the stands, before leaving with a back injury. Chris Smith and rookies Jordan Willis and Carl Lawson each sacked Cousins as defensive coordinator Paul Guenther seems to have the edge rushers he was looking for.

“Good job today on third down, which was key,” Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis said after his team improved to 1-2 in the preseason. “We haven’t played as well on third down defensively this preseason yet and so we made some good strides.”

It was the opposite for Cousins and the Redskins’ starters, who ended their preseason with nine three-and-outs on 15 possessions. Washington went three-and-out three times on Sunday as Cousins was 10 of 19 for 109 yards and an interception, which he called “entirely” his fault.

After generating 1 whole yard in the first quarter, the starters eventually put together a touchdown drive, but there’s reason for the Redskins (1-2) to be worried about slow starts continuing in the regular season.

“I’m a little concerned,” coach Jay Gruden said. “We just got to figure out something new, maybe eat a different pregame meal or something.”

INJURY UPDATE

Bengals: RB Giovani Bernard ran for 25 yards on four carries in his first game since tearing the ACL in his left knee last season. … Along with his game-ending back injury, Burfict was evaluated for a concussion but cleared. … RB Cedric Peerman suffered a left shoulder injury and TE Mason Schreck left with a knee injury. … TE Tyler Eifert (tendinitis) did not dress.

Redskins: DL Phil Taylor injured his left quadriceps muscle on the first defensive series and will have an MRI. … LB Junior Galette, who had been out with a hamstring injury, saw his first game action since Dec. 28, 2014. … TE Jordan Reed made two catches for 12 yards after missing the past month with a toe injury. … WR Josh Doctson sat out with hamstring/groin soreness, and rookie LB Ryan Anderson was out with a shoulder stinger.

ROOKIE WATCH

Bengals: WR John Ross flashed some speed on a jet sweep in his preseason debut. Ross, who set the 40-yard dash record at the scouting combine and was a first-round pick, had been held out to recover from shoulder surgery. … RB Joe Mixon, getting extra carries with Hill going out with an injury, ran eight times for 31 yards and fumbled an exchange with Dalton. … DT Ryan Glasgow made a fourth-and-1 stop in the third quarter.

Redskins: C Chase Roullier, starting in place of the injured Spencer Long, had some good downfield blocking on a day most of the offensive line struggled. … RB Samaje Perine didn’t do much to challenge Rob Kelley’s starting job, gaining 5 yards on 5 carries. … CB Joshua Holsey had a sack and looks like a good bet to make the roster.

POSITION BATTLES

Bengals: Hill versus Mixon got derailed by injury, and Bernard’s return adds him to the mix. … K Randy Bullock made a 53-yard field goal, while rookie Jake Elliott was wide right from 45 yards, his first miss of the preseason.

Redskins: Zach Brown and Mason Foster again started at inside linebacker, leaving Will Compton to play with the second team.

QUOTABLE

Ross: “This is my first week so I’ve still got a lot of growing to do, a lot of learning to do.”

Gruden on Cousins’ attempt to tackle Burfict: “To let a guy score a touchdown on our home field is unacceptable, so I’m happy he did that.”

 

(© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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