While most of the fingers will be pointed at Carson Palmer for the Cincinnati Bengals heartbreaking 24-21 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, head coach Marvin Lewis deserves just as much of the blame—mainly for one specific play called towards the end of the game.
On a 3rd and 13 from the Cincinnati 38 with 2:28 left in the game, the Bengals were holding on to a 21-14 lead. For most coaches, the smart play would be to take some time off the clock or force the other team to use one of their time outs by running the ball. Instead, Lewis decided he wanted to be “aggressive” by trying to complete a pass for the first down.
Here’s a postgame quote from the team site summarizing his decision to pass on that 3rd and 13:
“To sum it up, I wanted to go win the football game there at the end. I will take responsibility for that. I think we are good enough and can execute well enough to go win the football game. The third-down interception happened because I wanted to be aggressive. I put us in that situation, but I think we’ve got to play football that way. You can’t play scared. It’s a game where we didn’t do a lot of things exactly right early on, but we kept it a close game. We’ve just got to keep pressing the metal until we get it right.”
That plan obviously backfired considering Palmer’s pass intended for Terrell Owens was intercepted by Aqib Talib at the 50—which set up game-tying touchdown for the Bucs five plays later. Considering Cedric Benson was averaging 6.3 yards per carry in the game, Lewis should have given him the ball to see what would happen. The worst that happens is Kevin Huber—who has been phenomenal for the Bengals so far in 2010—punts the ball deep into Tampa Bay territory and they have to march down the field with limited time left.
Lewis should have at least had more faith in his defense to shutdown the Bucs deep in their own territory instead of trying to be aggressive at the end of the game. Unfortunately, there’s nothing he or the Bengals can do about it now; all they can do from here is use the bye week as a chance to re-group and figure out how this talented team is stuck at 2-3 behind the Ravens and Steelers in the AFC North.
Dan Parzych is the Lead NFL Content Editor for RantSports.com/NFL, where he writes and edits NFL content for RantSports.com.
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