Nate Kaeding’s long distance field goal this evening brought to the close a very tough week for the Cincinnati Bengals. The field goal secured the victory and the division for the now 11-3 and Chargers. The Chargers are a team that continues to play outstanding and is unbeatable in December. Today was their 17th straight December victory. The Bengals unfortunately, after a valiant effort, are now 9 and 5, and still need a one more win to secure their place in the playoffs. This should not be a problem for the Bengals, but their chances of clinching a first round bye are gone.
In a week where Bengal’s receiver Chris Henry died in traumatic fashion, the Bengals showed signs of life and put on their best performance in weeks. The players really put forth their best efforts for their fallen teammate, and came up just short against a very talented Chargers squad. Some highlights from the game. Palmer had his first 300 yard passing game since September of 2007. Chad OchoCinco had a beautiful 49 yard TD catch. This play was reminiscent of the offensive juggernaut that was in 2005. The Bengals rushing attack continued to demonstrate its ability to run the ball against any opponent amounting for over 100 rush yards in a game where they were forced to predominantly pass due to being behind. And the Bengals defense held another team under 100 yards rushing.
In my eyes the Bengals lost the game for one main reason. Other than the Chargers being a great team, Leon Hall seemed to really be off his game today. The Bengals arguably have the best tandem of cornerbacks in the League with Joseph and Hall, but today was an off day for Leon. Hall consistently was beaten by Chargers star receiver Vincent Jackson. Now I will not put the sole blame on Hall. Hall and Bengals safety Tom Nelson seemed to be confused on the coverages and it is hard to say whose fault it was on some of Jackson’s big receptions. Hall looked to be expecting help over the top, but the help came too late. So I will leave that up to you all to decide on who blew the coverage. Either way, the Bengals secondary has been very strong all year, but today unfortunately was definitely not its finest performance.
Lastly, I am proud of Chad OchoCinco for keeping his composure and playing a solid game. He made a couple of big time plays and I am sure his beloved friend “Slim” would have been proud of him and the entire team’s performance. The Bengals did the best they could and unfortunately were beaten on this particular day. Though the Bengals have lost the past two weeks, I feel these games have shown them that they need to continue to get better to have any prayer of going deep into the playoffs. It is very tough in the NFL to beat playoff bound teams on the road in December.
I just have a request that Bengal’s offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski lets Carson and the offense have a little more free rein down the stretch. Open up the playbook for the playoffs. Carson has a phenomenal arm and our offense has great playmakers in OchoCinco, Caldwell, and Cedric Benson. The Bengals offense looked pretty strong when they were forced to throw today. Why don’t we start throwing more often? I love that we have a solid run game, but the NFL has become a passing league. The Bengals run the ball percentage wise the second most in the League. This is not Big Ten football Bob. Welcome to the NFL.
Hopefully the Who Deys can come back and beat the Chiefs next week and clinch their spot in the postseason. A tough week for the team, but hats off for putting on a great effort under adversity.
Stay tuned for the next edition of Sportskraze.