Save for the clouds hovering over the sky, it was a typical December afternoon in San Diego. Cincinnati was 6-5, riding a three-game winning streak to compensate from a relatively disheartening four-game losing streak earlier this season while the Chargers, despite having a single-thread remaining on their postseason opportunities, were looking to close the season with a strong note.
Everything looked promising.
San Diego wins the coin toss, elected to defer and Brandon Tate... fumbles the kickoff inside the Bengals redzone. Following the phantom strip, Tate grips the football at the one-yard line and returned it eight yards to Cincinnati's nine-yard line.
Alright. Now everything looked promising.
The Andy Dalton offense was a collection of precision passing, powerfully patience running, mental clarity and sustainability. Dalton threw with confidence, BenJarvus Green-Ellis applied patience to find running lanes and the Bengals were moving. Two third downs were converted and a fourth down incomplete was given some help with a defensive holding.
Fifteen plays into the drive, the Bengals reached San Diego's 19-yard, consuming over seven minutes off the clock. Now Cincinnati had second and nine with 7:45 remaining in the first quarter.
Gresham lines up at the right tight end position with A.J. Green wide right. While Green runs a (very) thin post (that could otherwise be called seam), Gresham undercut Green's route. The cornerback, initially covering Green, was assigned the near sideline in Cover Three. And due to the obsession opposing defenses have with Green, the cornerback remained with the receiver too long, allowing Gresham free reign during his "9 route".
It was too easy, but credit goes to Andy Dalton, who beautifully arched the football well before Jermaine Gresham broke out towards the corner.