If tonight was any indication, the future could be bright in Cincinnati. Led by their two young rookies -- Andy Dalton and A.J. Green -- the Bengals handedly defeated the Carolina Panthers, 24-13, in their Thursday night NFL preseason matchup.
Dalton led four scoring drives in the first half to carry Cincinnati to an early lead, punctuated by a blistering 40-yard touchdown bomb to Green midway through the second quarter. The rookie-to-rookie connection was the first touchdown of either man's professional career, and potentially could be a sign of things to come for the beleaguered Bengals franchise. Dalton ended the game 11-of-17, with 130 yards and a touchdown.
But where one rookie quarterback shined, the other struggled. Panthers' first round pick Cam Newton once again submitted an unremarkable performance, as the Carolina offense continually failed to find a rhythm. Outside of a mighty 16-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, Newton labored to move the Panther attack, finishing just 6-of-19 for 75 yards.
The Bengals play their final preseason game next Thursday against the Indianapolis Colts, starting at 7 p.m. ET. Carolina caps off their preseason the same night with a home game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.