Ryan Fitzpatrick Solid in WFT's Preseason Win over Bengals as Joe Burrow Sits

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIAugust 21, 2021

Washington Football Team quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) hands the ball off to running back Antonio Gibson (24) during the first half of a preseason NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Friday, Aug. 20, 2021, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
AP Photo/Susan Walsh

The Washington Football Team defeated the Cincinnati Bengals 17-13 in preseason action on Friday at FedExField.

Washington scored 11 unanswered points in the second half to turn a 10-6 deficit into a 17-10 lead thanks to a Dustin Hopkins 31-yard field goal and a one-yard rush from rookie running back Jaret Patterson with 11:47 remaining in regulation.

Cincinnati answered with a 51-yard field goal from Evan McPherson and got the ball back after a Washington three-and-out, but the Bengals turned the ball over on downs on its final possession.

Washington QB1 Ryan Fitzpatrick completed 7-of-13 passes for 96 yards, and backup Taylor Heinicke completed 11-of-13 throws for 80 yards. Starting running back Antonio Gibson had 47 yards on nine touches, while Patterson led all players with 71 rushing yards on 16 carries.

Cincinnati's lone touchdown was courtesy of a one-yard run from backup quarterback Brandon Allen early in the third quarter to help give the Bengals a 10-6 edge.

Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow did not play. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft continues to work his way back from a torn MCL, ACL and other structural issues in his left knee after taking a hit against Washington in a Nov. 22 regular-season game.

"We’re just not there yet," Bengals head coach Zac Taylor said, per Dave Clark of the Cincinnati Enquirer on Monday.

"He could do it, I’m sure he wants to do it. But again, our No. 1 thing is making sure our guys are ready to play in Week 1 against Minnesota, so putting him out there is just not what we’re going to do right now."

The Bengals' first regular-season game is against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, Sept. 12.

Bengals rookie wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase, the No. 5 overall pick in this year's draft, saw limited action and finished catchless on three targets.

Both teams are now 1-1 this preseason after Washington's win.


Notable Performances

Bengals QB Brandon Allen: 8-of-17, 70 passing yards

Bengals RB Jacques Patrick: 6 carries, 42 rushing yards

Bengals CB Darius Phillips and LB Keandre Jones: 7 tackles each

WFT QB Ryan Fitzpatrick: 7-of-13, 96 passing yards

WFT RB Antonio Gibson: 7 carries, 28 rushing yards; 2 catches, 19 receiving yards

WFT RB Jaret Patterson: 16 carries, 71 rushing yards, 1 TD


Antonio Gibson Receives Heavy Usage

In a potential sign of things to come, Washington Football Team running back Antonio Gibson had nine first-quarter touches.

Word broke from Washington Football Team quarterback Kyle Allen this week that Gibson may be used in a Christian McCaffrey-type role, referencing the do-it-all Carolina Panthers running back who led the NFL in scrimmage yards, touchdowns and touches in 2019. He notably had 116 catches and 1,005 yards that year.

Bryan Manning of Washington Wire provided the quotes:

"You saw Christian McCaffrey in this offense a couple of years ago. Obviously, one of the best players in the league, but I think that’s where we’re trying to push Antonio to go. And he’s improved a ton. Just think, last year, he was a receiver coming in as a running back. This year, he has a year under his belt, where he played very well, 10-plus touchdowns, and he’s gaining a lot more confidence, playing a lot faster, he’s understanding it, he’s making decisions quicker. The more reps he gets, the better he gets. He’s just been continuously getting better."

Head coach Ron Rivera had hinted at Gibson becoming a more complete back, per Rhiannon Walker of The Athletic:

Rhiannon Walker @InstantRHIplay

Ron Rivera said that he believes that Antonio Gibson is progressing towards being a complete back. Being able to run whatever you want

Gibson split touches with J.D. McKissic and Peyton Barber in last year's WFT backfield, but signs point to the second-year running back out of Memphis taking on more responsibility in the running back room.

Nathan Jahnke of Pro Football Focus provided a snap count:

Nathan Jahnke @PFF_NateJahnke

Washington HB snap count after 4 drives<br><br>1st down/2nd down/3rd and 1/4th and 1<br><br>Antonio Gibson 13<br>Jaret Patterson 6(including the last 4, potential day over for Gibson)<br>J.D. McKissic 0<br><br>3rd and 2+<br><br>J.D. McKissic 4<br>Antonio Gibosn 0<br>Jaret Patterson 0

McKissic, as he was last year, was still the primary guy on third down, but Gibson clearly has a hold on the overall snap count and impressed in his one quarter of play:

Ben Standig @BenStandig

Antonio Gibson making moves in the run and passing game. Keeping his feet moving.

Grant Paulsen @granthpaulsen

Antonio Gibson is having a fantastic first quarter. <br><br>7 rushes for 28 yards and an additional two catches. He just caught a 14-yard designed screen. Nice patience to wait on his blockers. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/WashingtonNFL?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#WashingtonNFL</a>

In sum, Gibson could be in position to become one of the league's top offensive weapons thanks to his skill set and potential usage.


Bengals' First-Team Defense Impresses

The Washington Football Team moved the ball against the Cincinnati defense, but the Bengals didn't break.

Cincinnati allowed just one field goal in the first quarter, with Fitzpatrick and Gibson largely carrying the offense. The Bengals ended the first half allowing just six points overall as the team impressed against Washington's regulars.

It may have been an ugly day for the offense, with Chase notably going catchless, but Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic noted that the biggest takeaway was the defense's success:

Paul Dehner Jr. @pauldehnerjr

FINAL: WFT 17, <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Bengals?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Bengals</a> 13. <br><br>I make more of the quality of play from the first team defense for the second straight week than concern over the offense or Chase's drops. <br><br>I don't know if preseason/camp tells us anything for sure, but Bengals might be on to something defensively.

Paul Dehner Jr. @pauldehnerjr

So, that's a wrap on basically all the starters for the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Bengals?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Bengals</a> tonight. <br><br>Defense looks great. Offense looks disjointed. <br><br>Sounds familiar. Bengals playing how they've mostly practiced.

The biggest play occurred in the first quarter when linebacker Logan Wilson forced WFT wide receiver Cam Sims to fumble. Cornerback Mike Hilton was there for the recovery:

Cincinnati Bengals @Bengals

D-E-F-E-N-S-E<br><br>WATCH: <a href="https://t.co/hpjseyck1m">https://t.co/hpjseyck1m</a> <a href="https://t.co/JDJ6eBY1iK">pic.twitter.com/JDJ6eBY1iK</a>

That drive followed a series where Cincinnati stuffed Gibson on fourth down with Washington on the Bengals' 23-yard line. Wilson and nose tackle D.J. Reader were credited with that stop.

Naturally, this was a great day for Wilson, but the Bengals excelled everywhere on defense.

Defensive end Sam Hubbard had two quarterback hits, one of which resulted in a sack:

Cincinnati Bengals @Bengals

The Cincinnati Kid delivers 💥<br><br>WATCH: <a href="https://t.co/hpjseyck1m">https://t.co/hpjseyck1m</a> <a href="https://t.co/sOFF7v5TvP">pic.twitter.com/sOFF7v5TvP</a>

Reader added a quarterback hit, too, helping Cincinnati keep Washington out of the end zone.

Washington looked like it would get there at the end of the first quarter when it found itself with a 1st-and-10 from the Bengals' 16-yard line, but a run to nowhere and two incomplete passes led to a Hopkins field goal.

The Bengals may have lost this game, but there are plenty of positives to glean from the defense as Cincinnati sets its sight on their regular-season opener.

What's Next?

Both teams will close their three-game preseasons next weekend. Washington will host the Baltimore Ravens on Aug. 28 at 6 p.m. ET, and Cincinnati will welcome the Miami Dolphins to Paul Brown Stadium on Aug. 29 at 4 p.m ET.