The Bengals had already beaten the Chargers in San Diego earlier this season and were undefeated at home in the regular season. It was looking good for the Bengals to finally win in the playoffs and get past the first round. This is their third straight playoff appearance and they have become known as a one-and-done team because of their tendency to lose in the first round.
The Bengals looked good in the first half except for a fumble by Giovani Bernard as the Bengals attempted to drive into the red zone for a touchdown. They were able to hold the Chargers scoreless in the second quarter and Andy Dalton even threw a touchdown pass that was his first ever in the playoffs, despite being there the past two years.
That’s how bad they’ve been in the playoffs. A field goal at the end of the first half by Mike Nugent gave the Bengals a 10-7 lead at halftime. It was the second half that did not bring good things for the Bengals. They could hardly get anything going offensively, but when they did, they ended up turning the ball over. Dalton scrambled for a first down in the third quarter and it resulted in a lost fumble. He then proceeded to throw two interceptions later on in the half. Both interceptions only led to field goals for the Chargers, but that was enough to put them up by two scores early in the fourth quarter.
Despite playing at home, the Bengals looked like a completely different team than they have all season. They were held scoreless in the second half and were not dominant in any aspect. Dalton did not play like he had been playing in his home stadium this season. The turnovers killed the Bengals and three out of the four turnovers were committed by Dalton.
He is the definition of inconsistent and has been unreliable in the playoffs for three seasons in a row. I was beginning to believe that the Bengals were cursed in the playoffs; however, I have come to the conclusion of that not being the case. What has the common denominator been the last three seasons? It’s Dalton, who cracks under the pressure of the playoffs and continues to prove the Bengals’ reputation as a one-and-done playoff team. This devastating loss to the Chargers makes it even more difficult to be a Bengals fan.
The 27-10 win will send the Chargers to Denver to meet the Denver Broncos next week, while the Bengals will be headed back to the drawing board.
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