The San Diego Chargers have been providing proof that numbers do lie on many occasions all season long, and their game against the Cincinnati Bengals turned out to be just another example. Although the final numbers in terms of yardage turned out to relatively even, the Bolts controlled the statistical aspect of the contest throughout until the final demoralizing drive. That complete display of ineptitude seems like as good of a place to start as any when it comes to trying to explain this bowing out of the AFC Playoff race.
After kicking a field goal to trim the margin down to a one possession game, the Chargers seemed poised to come out and give their offense an opportunity to come back onto the field and win the game. Unfortunately the defense didn’t get the memo as they allowed Cincy to easily stride down the field and burn the remaining nearly five minutes of game time. This drive was a clinic in how to manhandle an opponent by the Bengals as their offensive line just seemed to have more desire than the defenders on San Diego’s side of things.
What this pathetic defensive effort underscores more than anything is a prevalent attitude question that the Chargers have had hanging over their heads for quite some time now. Their continued lack of killer instinct and inability to finish games has to be a relatable issue to the defense’s difficult to get crucial stops when needed.
Two big goals for the Bolts coming into this game had to be containing the damage done by sensational wide receiver A.J. Green and keeping rookie running back Giovani Bernard in check. While they accomplished these goals pretty well in the first two-thirds of the game, the final third is where the defense seemed to relent and allow these playmakers to run wild. Bernard only finished the day with 14 carries for 57 yards and no scores which seems harmless, but the majority of his damage was done in the final quarter. Green’s five catches for 83 yards led the Bengals, and his critical grab right after the Bolts trimmed the lead to a touchdown basically sealed the deal for Cincinnati.
At 5-7 that pretty much puts an end to any playoff hopes the Chargers were carrying into this contest. Their AFC record falls to 3-6 and they are on the wrong end of many head-to-head tiebreakers with teams ahead of them in the race for a postseason spot. It seems like this will be another December to forget for the Bolts as they are looking at four straight seasons without a trip to the playoffs.