The Bengals offense can’t wake up as Cowboys get a last second win

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) is sacked by Dallas Cowboys defensive end Dorance...
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) is sacked by Dallas Cowboys defensive end Dorance Armstrong (92) in the first quarter of an NFL Week 2 game, Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer(Cincinnati Enquirer)
Published: Sep. 18, 2022 at 7:36 PM EDT
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ARLINGTON, Texas (ENQUIRER) - On a third down early in the game on Sunday, Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow made a call at the line of scrimmage to add an extra blocker right in front of him.

When Burrow snapped the ball, there was no one blocking one of the NFL’s best pass rushers, Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons. He sprinted around the edge and hit Burrow before Burrow even had a chance to look at a wide receiver.

If you give Parsons a free path to Burrow, it doesn’t matter how dynamic your quarterback is. It doesn’t matter if you have the best wide receiver trio in the NFL. It doesn’t matter if you have the perfectly designed play down the field.

The Bengals offense looked flawed, inconsistent and unproductive as the Cowboys upset Cincinnati, 20-17, on Sunday at AT&T Stadium.

In the fourth quarter, the Bengals tied the game with a 19-play, 83-yard touchdown drive. With two minutes left, Burrow had the ball with a chance to win it, but the Bengals had a three-and-out drive.

Cowboys backup quarterback Cooper Rush did what the Bengals couldn’t and executed the game-winning field goal drive. Dallas got the ball back with just over a minute left at their 35-yard line. Following two first down passes, Cowboys kicker Brett Maher made a 50-yard field goal at the buzzer.

The Cowboys entered the game with a backup quarterback, just one starting caliber wide receiver and the entire left side of the offensive line injured. And yet the Cowboys were the offense that could solve the problems they were facing on the other side of the field.

Burrow took four sacks in the first half, and it wasn’t just a result of the offensive line losing one-on-one matchups. On one sack, tight end Drew Sample had to block a defensive end by himself. On another, a Cowboys blitzer ran straight up the middle.

One of Burrow’s superpowers was his ability to shred blitzes. The Bengals had play designs that got receivers open quickly with room to run. Burrow kept his eyes down the field despite the pressure surrounding him and found his receivers for deep completions.

For the entire first half on Sunday, Burrow didn’t have any chances for a 20-plus yard completion. The Bengals’ offense didn’t have any big plays in the first half as the Cowboys took a 17-3 lead into the break.

Unlike the Week 1 loss to the Steelers, where the Bengals were too aggressive early on and Burrow forced a few passes into tight windows, the Bengals offense versus the Cowboys was built around Burrow getting rid of the ball quickly. Unlike a Cowboys offense that took advantage of good matchups for their wide receivers on the outside and designed plays that got them open, Burrow didn’t have the right answers to the challenges the Cowboys were throwing at him.

On the first drive of the second half, the Bengals had 3rd and 13 on the fringe of field goal range. The Bengals ran a screen for Tee Higgins before Burrow could even look past the first down line.

The Cowboys offense opened the game with back-to-back touchdown drives against a Bengals defense that played a near perfect game last week against Pittsburgh.

On the first drive of Sunday’s game, a typically stout Bengals run defense couldn’t stop the Cowboys rushing attack. After overcorrecting by playing more defenders close to the line of scrimmage, Cowboys quarterback Cooper Rush found opportunities with the play action passing game.

On the second drive, the Cowboys ran a pass for running back Tony Pollard that he caught behind the line of scrimmage. Pollard broke through all three levels of the Bengals defense on a poorly executed play and ran 47 yards before being tackled at the Bengals’ 1-yard line.

When the Bengals fell behind last season, Burrow was always able to pick the team up with explosive plays. In 2021, the Bengals were the best team in the NFL at converting deep passes down the field.

Against the Cowboys, the Bengals rarely even attempted them in another disappointing game for the offense.

The Bengals offense finally found a rhythm on the game-tying drive in the fourth quarter. With six minutes left in the game, the Bengals faced 4th and 6 at the Cowboys’ 27-yard line. With the game potentially on the line, Chase was being guarded by Cowboys All-Pro cornerback Trevon Diggs. Burrow’s two previous throws had been off-target, but this one to Chase on a slant was on target for the first down.

Two plays later, Higgins ran a comeback route near the left sideline. Burrow timed the play with Higgins, and the Bengals made it to the Cowboys’ 7-yard line. Two plays after that, Burrow rolled out of the pocket and found Higgins in the back corner of the end-zone for the touchdown. On the two-point conversion, Burrow found Boyd to tie the game at 17-17.

The Bengals got the ball back in a tie game in the last two minutes, but Diggs tackled Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd inches in front of the first down line.

The Cowboys got the ball back, and the Bengals defense allowed a game-winning field goal drive for the second consecutive week.

This story was written by our media partners at The Cincinnati Enquirer.