After finally breaking through in the AFC North, the Cincinnati Bengals came up empty handed in the playoffs at home, falling to the San Diego Chargers after leading a close game at halftime.
The difference in the game was simply Andy Dalton. Although the Bengals’ defense was able to keep them in the game during the first half, they couldn’t hold up against a potent second half attack by the Chargers. That let down combined with a few terrible decisions by Andy Dalton doomed the Bengals.
Sunday’s loss was the first time the Bengals have lost at home all season long, and as it turns out, it came at the worst possible time.
The Chargers, by contrast, came across as a dangerous team in the postseason. After nearly losing to the Chiefs’ reserves a week ago, the Chargers bounced back with sound play throughout the game, and Philip Rivers was successful in avoiding the big mistakes that have so often plagued the Chargers’ offense in the past.
At the end of the day, the Bengals’ four turnovers were the clear difference. Because of being gifted points, the Chargers were able to stick to their running game, and that allowed them to eat clock up in the second half. The Bengals were forced to continue to air it out late, something that proved detrimental to their hopes.
While the Chargers played well, they didn’t play out of this world football either. San Diego can’t count on being handed games in the postseason like they were on Sunday afternoon. The Chargers’ win really was a case of letting the game come to them. They did their jobs efficiently, and it was too much for the Bengals to handle.
As the six seed in the AFC playoffs, the Chargers will now be traveling to Denver to play their division rivals, the Denver Broncos. Interestingly enough, the Chargers were able to keep their playoff hopes alive in the latter stages of the season by defeating the Broncos. They’ll need another great performance if they hope to move on to the AFC championship game.