One of the great things about preseason football is that, sometimes, both teams walk away from a game happy. For example, after Cincinnati's 24-19 win over Atlanta Thursday night, Bengals fans can be glad their team won, and Falcons fans can be excited about the performance of their first-stringers -- you know, the guys actually likely to play in games where losses are actually disappointing.
Five different Bengals generated a play with 20 yards receiving or more, including A.J. Green's 50-yard touchdown reception that gave Cincinnati a 10-3 lead early in the second quarter. Though the highlight of the evening, it was a typical launch and catch from one of the league's more promising quarterback-receiver combinations, which was perfect for a national television audience obsessed with questioning Dalton's arm strength.
Considering what really matters is the performance of the first team, this has to be considered an encouraging game. Matt Ryan was truly excellent, and the team didn't make it easy for Andy Dalton in the pocket. I'm more excited by the week about how this team's going to look come the season.
Matt Ryan is going to be a monster this season. With the offensive line barely protecting him, he nonetheless threw lasers all over the field, completing 18 of 21 passes for 174 yards and a touchdown. His supporting cast is going to get a lot of justifiable hype, but it's Ryan who makes the whole thing tick.