Hardest obstacle for Cincinnati Bengals is themselves

Joe Burrow, Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Joe Burrow, Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

The Cincinnati Bengals‘ recent loss to the San Francisco 49ers is an absolute heartbreaker in more ways than one. They rose from the dead to erase a 14 point deficit in the fourth quarter and force overtime, but sadly, the Niners held the Bengals to just a field goal and scored a touchdown on their ensuing drive.

When thinking about the game, one can’t break the feeling of how the Bengals let that game slip right through their fingers. It’s another game in which the good guys were far and away the better team, but lost due to mistake after mistake. This game against the 49ers is only a small sample of the Bengals missing a golden opportunity.

Cincinnati Bengals are their own worst enemy

The Bengals plagued themselves early by muffing two punt returns, which led to 10 points for the opposing Niners squad. Even with that being the case, Cincinnati found a way to climb out of the hole and force overtime.

They received the ball first and put together a fairly solid drive. However, once the stripes got to the red zone, Zac Taylor chose to go fully conservative on the play calling with two-run plays and the third play resulted in a sack. Kicking the field goal there allowed San Francisco to drive back down the field and score the walk-off touchdown.

I truly don’t understand why Taylor would take the ball out of Joe Burrow’s hands in the most critical juncture of the game. Not only is he your franchise guy, but the 49ers were missing their two starting cornerbacks. It does not make any logical sense to go into a turtle shell in terms of playcalling at that point in the game.

I should be shocked, but I’m not that surprised. We’ve seen playcalling and fundamentals down the stretch bite this team where it hurts. If you need another sample, just head back to last week.

The reason Cincy drafted Burrow is for moments like the fourth quarter of this game. To pick apart the defense and win the game for the team and the city. If you aren’t going to let him cook, then why didn’t the team draft someone else with their first pick of the 2020 draft?

Another game in which the Bengals beat themselves from the get-go with bad fundamentals was two weeks ago against the Chargers. That interception in which Ja’Marr Chase batted the ball up in the air to another defender destroyed any momentum and cost the Bengals an easy seven points.

Fast forward to the end of the game. The Bengals found a way to dig themselves out of a 24-point deficit. They strung together a great drive and had the chance to take the lead.

After entering the redone, Joe Mixon fumbled the ball, and the Chargers scooped it up and scored. This is yet another game where the Bengals lost a costly game with playoff implications; a game where it was right in their grasp.

In games in which the far better roster loses, one can’t help but look at coaching malpractice to blame for the past two weeks.

While Zac Taylor has done a tremendous job turning the locker room into a culture that the city can be proud of, the in-game decision has been a problem for the Bengals in more than one loss this season, especially in big-time games.

Looking back on last week vs. the Chargers, the players were not even close to being ready to play. You reap what you sew, and the crop was thin last Sunday, as the Bengals started down 24-0 in the first quarter.

This past Sunday, the Bengals found themselves starting unprepared once again. Once again, there were fundamental mistakes, such as the decision to take the ball out of Burrow’s hands. Both of these compartments are directly affected by coaching.

While Taylor has admitted to his mistakes, he must atone for the Bengals to slide into the playoffs. Some hope to leave you with is that everything is still right in front of the good guys.

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Cincinnati can still win the AFC North but the mistakes must be cleaned up, and Zac Taylor has to put the team on Burrow’s back.