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The Bengals were flagged for a penalty on their first offensive play of their final preseason game.
With the tone set, the Benagls proceeded to fart around for the three hours that followed Brandon LaFell's false start, displaying little of the sense of urgency that's expected this season, while hiding all of their offensive explosiveness in a 20-0 loss to the Ravens.
The Bengals played like a team cognizant of its bigger battles ahead. Its often-maligned offensive line struggled. So too did its quarterback, who led a vanilla offense that held much in check to zero points while accounting for five turnovers.
When he wasn't backtracking behind Cincinnati's inexperienced offensive line, Dalton was throwing passes into double coverage, essentially throwing caution to the wind in a game that clearly didn't count for the Bengals, whose offense displayed the urgency of death row inmate being led to execution.
The lack of intensity would've been intensified had today's result counted, but the way the Bengals languished around clearly told viewers that today's game was little more than a run-through, with the real action coming up on Thursday.
By then, hopefully a lot of what manifested itself against Baltimore will be a distant memory. Maybe we'll see an offensive line hold its blocks. Perhaps we'll see a sharper, more focused quarterback. Or we could see a team that looks like it's feeling the weight of the pressure that comes with making improvements from the disaster that was last season.
Maybe we'll actually see the Bengals score a point too.
Maybe when the Bengals actually play a game that counts, we'll have an idea of how good they can be, because if you watched them fart around in a game that clearly meant nothing, you're left to wonder how much this season will look like last season.