CINCINNATI—Andy Dalton‘s sore neck gave AJ McCarron a chance for his first NFL keepsake.Dalton sneaked in for a touchdown on Cincinnati’s opening drive, then came out of the game as a precaution with a sore neck on Saturday night during a 21-10 preseason victory over the Bears.The Bengals (2-1) were looking for a lot more out of their starting offense after a three-turnover performance in a loss at Tampa Bay. Dalton threw two interceptions in that one.On Saturday, he completed all six of his passes during a 16-play, 77-yard drive that consumed 9 minutes, 11 seconds. Dalton finished it with a sneak from inside the 1-yard line, emerged from the pile and spiked the ball.When Dalton reached the sideline, he took off his helmet and coach Marvin Lewis decided to keep him there because he had a sore neck. Dalton didn’t go for treatment, staying on the sideline for the rest of the first half.McCarron was impressive during his first stint with the starting offense. He completed his first seven passes, including a 31-yard throw to Marvin Jones for his first professional TD pass. He kept the ball, cradling it under his left arm as he jogged off the field.McCarron was a fifth-round pick out of Alabama last year, but missed his rookie season with a sore passing shoulder. He won the backup job after the second preseason game, and gave the Bengals a sense of confidence that he can keep the offense going if Dalton gets hurt.Bengals quarterbacks completed their first 13 passes against the Bears (2-1), who again failed to get a touchdown out of their starting offense. Jay Cutler played the first half and one series in the second half, leading to a Robbie Gould field goal.The Bears’ offense has managed five field goals and no touchdowns in the preseason.Cutler was 13 of 17 for 98 yards without an interception before he was replaced by Jimmy Clausen. The starting offense got six first downs and 123 yards on 29 plays. ”We’ve got a lot of stuff we’ve got to get cleaned up,” Cutler said.NO KIDDING!
NOTES—Second-round pick Eddie Goldman was expected to fill in at nose tackle while Jeremiah Ratliff serves a three-game suspension. Goldman left in the first half with a concussion. Ratliff hurt his left ankle and wore a boot after the game…. Clausen was 5 of 8 for 39 yards….McCarron played until the middle of the fourth quarter and finished 12 of 17 for 149 yards with a touchdown……The Bears touchdown came when undrafted rookie Ify Umodu broke through the line, blocked Kevin Huber‘s punt and returned it 8 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter…..Matt Forte carried six times for 16 yards. The Bears’ running game managed only 67 yards on 18 carries, an average of 3.7 yards…… ”The negative plays have just been killing us,” tackle Jermon Bushrod said. ”We’ve got to figure out a way to get into the end zone.”