At Los Angeles
4:00 p.m. ET
70 degrees and clear
Key Coaching Decision #1: (LAC ball, leading 14-6 / third-and-1, LAC 16 / 1:44 Q2)
• The Chargers line up in a shotgun formation and Philip Rivers is sacked for a 10-yard loss. This was surprising, as the Chargers had success running the ball with Austin Ekeler on two third-and-short situations (with 5:03 and 2:28 in the first quarter). The Bengals then promptly called their second timeout before the Chargers punt.
• We didn’t like this call, as the Chargers had converted on a number of third-and-short plays to this point by running the ball both in and out of shotgun.
• After failing to convert, the Chargers then punted the ball to the Bengals. Cincinnati went 35 yards in five plays to score and make it a 14-12 game.
Key Coaching Decision #2: (CIN ball, trailing 14-12 / 2-point conversion attempt / 0:20 Q2)
• After a John Ross touchdown, the Bengals opt for a 2-point conversion rather than attempt the PAT. They failed on the 2-point attempt. The Bengals had momentum and we understood why they attempted to tie the game here after scoring 12 unanswered points. Yet, this early in the game, we think the prudent decision would be to attempt the PAT.
Key Coaching Decision #3: (LAC ball, leading 14-12 / first-and-5, CIN 41 / 0:00 Q2)-
• An offside penalty on Cincinnati gave the Chargers one last play before halftime. What was going to be a Hail Mary pass attempt became a field goal opportunity for Chargers kicker Michael Badgley, who made a 59-yard field goal to give the Chargers a 17-12 lead at the end of the first half. This was a big momentum change for the Chargers as they had given up 12 straight points to the Bengals. This was big as the Bengals would start the second half with the ball.
Key Coaching Decision #4: (CIN ball, trailing 17-12 / fourth-and-1, CIN 35 / 12:51 Q3)
• The Bengals attempt a fourth-down conversion on their side of the field. Bengals running back Joe Mixon was stopped for no-gain. The Chargers take over on downs.
Key Coaching Decision #5: (LAC ball, leading 17-12 / fourth-and-1, CIN 26 / 11:09 Q3)
• Facing fourth-and-1 at the 26-yard line, the Chargers forego a field goal and hand the ball to Austin Ekeler, who plunged ahead for a 2-yard gain to extend the drive. The drive eventually stalls and the Chargers end up kicking a 31-yard field goal.
Key Coaching Decision #6: (LAC ball, leading 20-12 / third-and-2, LAC 23 / 1:16 Q3)
Key Coaching Decision #7 (LAC ball, leading 20-15 / third-and-3, CIN 14 / 7:54 Q4)
• In both instances, the Chargers threw the ball on third-and-short despite having had greater success running the ball on third-and-short situations earlier in the game.
• The Chargers were without the services of running back Melvin Gordon.
• The Bengals also did not have their best offensive players. Quarterback Andy Dalton and wide receiver A.J. Green are both are out for the season.
• Bengals quarterback Jeff Driskel played admirably in place of Dalton and was 18 of 27 for 170 yards and a touchdown. He looked like a competent NFL quarterback.
• Chargers kicker Michael Badgley kicked four field goals, including a 59-yard field goal on the final play of the first half. He has kicked 14-of-15 field goals since becoming the Chargers kicker in November. The kicker position had been an issue for most of Anthony Lynn’s nearly two-season coaching tenure.
• Cincinnati’s defense tightened up as the game wore on. They allowed two Chargers touchdowns on their first two drives, but held Los Angeles to 12 points (four field goals) and 128 total yards after the first two drives.
• The Bengals (5-8) have lost five straight games.