The Cincinnati Bengals lost a heartbreaker on the road to the San Diego Chargers, who now take a firm grip on the No. 2 seed and a first round bye in the AFC Playoff picture. After driving to tie the game with 0:57 left in the game, the Bengals allowed the Chargers to drive the field and get a 52-yard game-winning field goal in the game’s final seconds.
In Memory of Henry – There was no telling how Cincinnati was going to respond to the shocking death of their teammate Chris Henry earlier in the week. In the end, they rallied behind him and put together a heart-felt effort. Chad Ochocinco paid tribute to his teammate by making a big play, the kind that Henry loved the most, when he scored on 49-yard strike from Carson Palmer. Following the catch, Ochocinco took a knee in the end zone, looked up to the sky and said a personal prayer. It was a very moving moment as Bengals’ fan.
Carson Palmer – For the first time in 18 games, Palmer threw for over 300 yards. He finished by completing 27 of 40 passes for two touchdowns and just one interception. He completed passes to eight different receivers as he put to rest any questions about the health of his arm. The shot of him addressing the offense on the sidelines early in the second half showed he is indeed the team’s leader.
Corners – One week after they turned in one of their best efforts of the season, the Bengals’ secondary gave up some big plays to the Chargers. Cincinnati had no answer for Chargers’ wideout Vincent Jackson, who finished with five catches for 108 yards and a pair of touchdown catches. The completion allowed to Malcom Floyd to set up the field goal at the end was unacceptable.
Penalties – The team continues to shoots themselves in the foot by making mental mistakes. They were flagged nine times for 55 yards. If they are going to make a playoff run, they need to limit the laundry being tossed on the field.
Andre Caldwell – For the second time in a trip out west, the Bengals’ young wideout coughed up the ball in a critical situation. This time around the Bengals were able to maintain possession and salvage a field goal, but there is no telling how the game may have gone had they not lost the 20 yards on his lost fumble on the final drive.
Red Zone Efficiency – They mustered just one touchdown in four trips to the end zone. It’s hard to beat a high-powered team on the road when you have to settle for field goals.
Third quarter – It what has become a disturbing trend, the Bengals came out of the locker room flat to start the second half. The crowd became the 12th man in the big way as Cincinnati committed three straight penalties deep in their own territory as they fell 11 points down in the game shortly after intermission.
QUOTE TO NOTE
“Chris embodies what this team is all about. He turned his life around. We turned this team around from a year ago. We have men in this locker room. You couldn't always say that around here. We are ready to go home and win the AFC North.” – offensive lineman Andrew Withworth on Henry after the game.