Several missed opportunities hurt the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. In the Bengals best performance since October. Four mis-steps in particular contributed to their 26-21 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.
Some of these missed opportunities have hurt the Bengals in several games. Starting with their struggles with two-point conversions. The Bengals haven’t had a successful two point conversion attempt in nearly 60 games. The Bengals went for two and failed towards the end of the first half. Their second two-point conversion attempt ended with quarterback Jeff Driskel being sacked.
Penalties also hurt the Bengals again on Sunday. Most notably, a Jordan Willis offside penalty in the last-minute of the first half. This penalty put the Chargers into field goal range. Providing them with the opportunity to extend their lead from two to five points. The Chargers half-ending field goal was ultimately successful; taking a 12-17 lead into halftime. A false start also cost the Bengals a potential touchdown in the second quarter. Right after a recent rule change produced controversy, leaving Driskel inches short of a touchdown.
Two other mis-steps are in some ways related to one another. First, the Bengals keep giving up points in opening possessions. Sunday’s game was no exception to this trend. The most recent exception was in Week 13 against the Denver Broncos. Cincinnati’s struggles to use coin toss deferrals to their advantage is another missed opportunity.
Whatever the Bengals are hoping to gain from this isn’t working. The Bengals are not utilizing scoring opportunities to start the second half. This was again the case against the Chargers. They’re often going three and out to start the second half. The Bengals were shutout in the third quarter on Sunday.
Cincinnati’s offense and defense showed some improvements against the Chargers. Compared to an abysmal month of November for the team. This ultimately still wasn’t enough to beat the Chargers. Leaving the Bengals 5-8 heading into their home finale this Sunday. Ending Week 14 in last place in the AFC North.
The Bengals will face the Oakland Raiders this Sunday. Facing their least challenging opponent left this season. With Oakland’s defense coached by Paul Guenther; Cincinnati’s defensive coordinator last year. Oakland and Cincinnati have two of the worst defensive units in the NFL this season. The Bengals can’t pass up the potential opportunities this Sunday could present. With either a .500 season or a losing season hanging in the balance.