In their first game in the Los Angeles-area in nearly 30 years, the Bengals fell just short of completing one the NFL’s biggest upsets of the year. Cincinnati managed to easily cover the 14-point spread against them, but usual mental shortcomings managed to prohibit them from closing the deal.
Here are our winners and losers from the Bengals’ 26-21 loss to the Chargers.
Joe Mixon: From the beginning of the game, the Bengals made it clear that Mixon would be more involved in the offense. After starting the game averaging over seven yards per carry, he finished with 111 yards on the ground on 26 attempts and a touchdown with under two minutes left in the game. The Bengals failed on the ensuing two-point conversion to tie the game, but Mixon’s day was still impressive, as he finally got the usage he’s earned this season.
Christian Ringo: Ringo has been a pleasant surprise this season and got his first sack of his career early in this game. He followed that up with a tackle for loss and applied a good amount throughout the game when he was filling in for Geno Atkins.
Carlos Dunlap: This was a classic Dunlap game, all that was missing was a game-changing play in the fourth quarter. Dunlap had a crucial pass defended that was followed by a third down sack near the end of the first half that forced a Chargers punt. He finished the game with four tackles, the aforementioned sack, a tackle for loss and two pass deflections at the line of scrimmage. He played the best game out of any defender, but it was a close battle with...
William Jackson: From the second to third quarter, the Chargers offense wasn’t as potent as many expected them to be. Part of that was the play of Jackson, specifically during this timeframe. He also had a crucial pass deflection on third-and-three in the fourth quarter. Jackson had a great day and has had a great second half of the season.
Hardy Nickerson: What’s more to be said about Nickerson? At the very least, Malik Jefferson actually got some meaningful playing time in this game, but Nickerson’s athletic inadequacies were on full display when the Chargers were moving the ball down the field in the first half.
Billy Price and Alex Redmond: The Bengals’ center and right guard had okay performances, but as it is with offensive lineman, the mistakes stand out. Redmond’s false start penalty on fourth-and-goal at the one-yard line goal line forced a field goal for the offense in the second quarter. Later on in the third quarter, Price had a false start on a fourth-and-seven in the third quarter that led to a punt. Each mistake cost the Bengals potential points and those points ended up being pretty important.
Trey Hopkins: After a poor performance at left guard last week, Hopkins was benched multiple times in this game for Christian Westerman. When he first exited the game, there were no reports of an injury, as he had his helmet on the sidelines at all times. Last season at the tail end of the schedule, the Bengals rotated Westerman and Alex Redmond at left guard purposefully, so perhaps they’re doing something similar. But Hopkins was the expected starter and al of the sudden he wasn’t on the field. That’s not good for him.
Geno Atkins: While Dunlap had a great game, Atkins was more transparent than usual. He finished with just one tackle and didn’t force his usual amount of pressure from the interior. He remains sack-less for the last three games.
Bill Lazor: Mustering 21 points without your starting quarterback and No. 1 wide receiver is a decent output, but Lazor’s questionable play calling in the game’s most critical moments is what puts him under the microscope after this loss. The Bengals failed to convert on a fourth-and-inches (seriously what was that call) and two two-point conversions and ended up down by two before the Chargers kicked another field goal to put them up five.