NFL preseason, Bengals vs. Falcons: Pair of offensive backups shine during Cincinnati's win

Kevin C. Cox

Cincinnati's offensive second-teamers put on a show during the Bengals' 34-10 win over the Atlanta Falcons.

The Cincinnati Bengals' starters didn't put on much of a show during the team's 34-10 win preseason over the Atlanta Falcons, but fans are certainly licking their chops over the team's potential depth after the backups went on a 34-7 run over the final three quarters.

It didn't start out very pretty. Starting quarterback Andy Dalton, handcuffed by the absence of three of his favorite receivers (A.J. Green, Andrew Hawkins and Marvin Jones), went just 3-for-7 for 37 yards during a first quarter that ended with the Bengals down 3-0.

Things turned around during a 17-0 second quarter, engineered in large part by backup quarterback Josh Johnson. Johnson, a journeyman with his fourth team in the last five years, showed electric playmaking ability while posting 100 yards and a touchdown through the air and adding another 64 yards on the ground.

Johnson has been in competition with John Skelton for the No. 2 quarterback job, but as Josh Kirkendall of Cincy Jungle explains, Johnson's performance on Thursday night may have ended the argument.

Every point scored during Cincinnati's 17-point second quarter was with Johnson at the helm. Most of us finally had a chance to witness his speed, elusiveness, and even his arm strength. Alright. He played against backup players, but he was leading the team with 60 yards rushing on only three carries by half-time with a passer rating of 104.7. If there's a discussion on the backup quarterback, we have to believe that those discussions are over.

It was also a good game for wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher, who caught two passes for 59 yards and a touchdown and added took a punt return back for six. Writes Kirkendall:

Not only did Sanzenbacher look great from the slot, he returned a punt 71 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter. He added another 36-yard touchdown early in the fourth. A good training camp with Ryan Whalen, along with a good showing against the Falcons, will force Cincinnati's coaching staff to make a tough decision somewhere.

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