Joe Burrow only had 132 passing yards until the last drive, but gained 62 on the final drive when it mattered most.
A. J. Green had a decent game, his first on the field since 2018. He had five receptions and 51 yards. Joe Mixon had 19 carries, but only gained 69 yards.
The Joe Burrow era began with a three-and-out, and Burrow’s first pass was an incompletion on the sideline to Mike Thomas.
On the next drive, Burrow hooked up with Green for eleven yards on what was the first of hopefully many completions between them.
Early in the first quarter, the Chargers’ pass rush was dominating the line of scrimmage. Burrow was constantly on the run from Joey Bosa, and took a sack for a loss of 14 yards.
Burrow finally scored his first career touchdown on a quarterback draw. He followed Hopkins on his way to a 23-yard touchdown run. After Randy Bullock’s extra point, the Bengals took an early 7-0 with 2:24 to go in the first quarter.
Joe Burrow gets his first NFL TD on a 23 yard draw play! pic.twitter.com/HUYepRe3JV— Bobby Skinner (@BobbySkinner_) September 13, 2020
The Bengals’ defense kept Tyrod Taylor under wraps until the middle of the second quarter when he uncorked a 36-yard bomb to Mike Williams. A 15-yard penalty moved the ball to the red zone. But the Chargers had to settle for a field goal, so the Bengals kept the lead at 7-3 with 7:10 in the second quarter.
The Chargers added a quick field goal at halftime to make the score 7-6 going into halftime.
Burrow looked very much like a rookie in the first half. He took three sacks for a loss of 20 yards, and only threw for 51 yards. Green was his favorite target in the first half, throwing four passes his way.
The Chargers got the ball to start the second half and ran the ball four straight times for 36 yards. That set up a field goal attempt, which Michael Badgley missed to the right.
Mixon and Green followed it up with two first downs. Burrow threw two passes into the end zone, but missed on both. Bullock hit a 50-yard field goal to increase the Bengals’ lead to 10-6 with 9:12 left in the third.
Bullock added another field goal with 1:36 to make it 13-6. Joe Reed returned the ensuing kickoff to midfield, and Jalen Guyton hauled in a 16-yard catch at the Bengals’ 33-yard line. The Chargers got all the way down to the five-yard line until Joshua Kelley pounded the ball in for a touchdown. Badgley made the extra point to tie the game at 13 apiece with 12:23 left in the final quarter.
The Bengals only got two plays in before Mixon fumbled the ball for the first time since 2017. The Chargers recovered the ball at the Bengals’ 24-yard line. The Bengals made a defensive stand, and the Chargers were forced to settle for a chip-shot field goal. With 8:56, the Chargers took their first lead of the game, up 16-13.
The Bengals had to do what they hadn’t do all game: put a long drive together. The Bengals looked like they were going to and approached the red zone, but Burrow threw the first interception of his career. Melvin Ingram picked off a shovel pass to Giovani Bernard to stop the Bengals in their tracks.
The Bengals stopped the Chargers and received the ball via punt with just over three minutes in the game.
Burrow passed for 62 yards on the last drive of the game. By far his best drive of was the final drive of regulation. Burrow threw into the end zone, but Green was called for offensive pass interference, so the Bengals settled for Bullock kick.
Bullock missed the 31-yard kick to the right to end the game. Unfortunately, the Bengals’ first game of 2020 ended in a crushing 16-13 loss.