The special teams really didn’t make any splashes.
In fact, the only play that really stood out was negative, when Brandon Tate bobbled the ball on the opening kick-off, forcing the 91-yard drive.
Cincinnati didn’t break anything out when they received punts. Then again, neither did the Chargers. The kickoff and punt coverage continued to be solid, as it has for the last few weeks.
The main downside is the concussion injury to Dre Kirkpatrick, who has fitted nicely in the gunner role on coverage, and has had several downed punts inside the twenty yard-line. The Bengals will miss him.
The coaching is always a factor in close games.
To start, Mike Zimmer had a brilliant adjustment to the Chargers offense in the second half, as he seemed to have an answer for every play San Diego ran. Philip Rivers was limited, and it gave the Bengals the opportunity to come from behind.
As for the play-calling by Jay Gruden? It was decent, although somewhat uncreative. I would have liked to see much more of the deep ball to A.J. Green against a weak Chargers secondary. It would have helped the flow of the offense, and would have provided nice set-up plays since Green-Ellis seemed to be running very well.
There wasn’t really any reason to complain with the job Marvin Lewis did, as he was able to coach the Bengals to a win in a close game.
Hopefully, the Bengals can continue to win these close contests, as there look to be at least three of those tight match-ups as the regular season wraps up. Whether they go Cincinnati’s way will be the determining factor for who wins the wild-card.