Cincinnati played their first game after the untimely death of their fallen teammate, Chris Henry. If you're a fan of the Bengals, you have to appreciate their effort and spirit. They played their guts out. Palmer passed for over 300 yards for the first time since week 17 in 2007. Laveranues Coles showed up after losing his starting spot, catching four passes after unquestionably disappearing several weeks before. J.P. Foschi had a great game, catching seven passes for 82 yards receiving, showing up when the team needed a tight end to catch passes underneath. Keith Rivers had an interception that brought Cincinnati back into the game, being down 24-10 and a sack. Chinedum Ndukwe had over ten tackles and half a sack. Johnathan Joseph recorded six tackles and an interception and Dhani Jones made several stops behind the line of scrimmage. Quan Cosby joined the offense against the Chargers catching three passes for 47 yards and Brian Leonard had another impressive third down pickup. Shayne Graham had two kickoffs out of the back of the endzone and never kicked the football out of bounds. That's progress.
But in the end, it just wasn't enough. Tied at 24 with 54 seconds left in the game, Philip Rivers and the Chargers offense marched down the field, picking up 46 yards through the air setting up Nate Kaeding's 52-yard game winning field goal.
As a football fan, this was a great game, full of it's exciting moments. True, it was another game of frustration with the Bengals committing nine penalties -- three of which were consecutive in the third quarter setting up first-and-25 before the first snap of the possession. It was frustrating that the Bengals were forced into second-and-36 after Andre Caldwell's fumble while driving for a late game drive in which a touchdown wins the game. Instead, they're forced to pick up as many yards as possible to kick the game-tying field goal.
Cincinnati has the Chiefs and Jets left on their schedule. It will be the third straight week next week that the Bengals will be able to clinch the AFC North. They fall to 9-5 on the season and while it appears that the Bengals might be losing momentum, they played well Sunday. They just didn't win.