How They Won, Part II: Finally Overcoming Their Mistakes

Jeff Gross

The Cincinnati Bengals played a very sloppy and mistake-prone game. Yet at the end they gutted through them for a game-winning touchdown drive led by Andy Dalton and BenJarvus Green-Ellis.

After the defense bailed out Jermaine Gresham, who fumbled the football midway through the third quarter, the Bengals and Chargers resumed a game of field position stealy darts and Lannister manipulation. It was both frustrating and encouraging. Defensively the Bengals were becoming more aggressive; especially when San Diego abandoned their first half game plan to use screen passes, which negated Cincinnati's pass rush early in the game.

Overall the Bengals defense pass rush and generated pressure allowing an aggressive undertone in the secondary. On third and four opening the fourth quarter, Reggie Nelson (aka, Stud Missile... get it?) wiped out Ronnie Brown's legs on a swing pass, losing three yards and forcing the Chargers to punt.

Yet the Rogain sales department should send a Christmas card to Cincinnati because of the amount of fans that pulled their own hair out. Mistakes and errors were leading to three and out possessions and turnovers. The dreadful second half went interception, fumble, three and out, and three and out before Cincinnati resumed at their own 45-yard line with 11:53 remaining in the game.

Though the mistakes were still present, the offense played well enough to overcome.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis converted a third and one from the Chargers 45-yard line, picking up the first down when Jermaine Gresham, having already fumbled, was flagged for an offensive hold that wiped out a big gain by Green-Ellis. Dalton confidently went back to Gresham with an eight-yard gain, followed by a seven-yard pass to Green and a quarterback sneak on third and one, reaching the Chargers 34-yard line with 8:01 remaining in the game.

Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden called BenJarvus Green-Ellis' number on three consecutive plays, picking up 15 yards rushing and pushing the offense inside the redzone. Marvin Jones and Andrew Hawkins picked up another first down consecutive receptions (for 13 yards). The expected mistake returned at the six-yard line when the Bengals were called for illegal formation because Dennis Roland had reported as an eligible receiver with A.J. Green on the line of scrimmage -- he needed to be off the line.

Green-Ellis recovered those yards when the Bengals had second and goal from the Chargers six-yard line with 4:17 remaining in the game.

Andy Dalton takes the second down snap, pump fakes to the right and explodes through line of scrimmage on a designed draw. With Chargers defenders deep in the endzone, many with their backs turned, Dalton sprints and dives at the two-yard line, outstretched with the football grasped by two hands. Touchdown.

Cincinnati takes a 17-13 lead with 4:11 remaining in the game, another fourth quarter Andy Dalton comeback completed.

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