After trailing 20-6 in the third quarter, the Cincinnati Bengals made a miraculous rally to tie the game in the fourth quarter vs. the San Francisco 49ers. Sadly, they couldn’t finish the deal and lost 26-23 in overtime.
The Bengals lost the Chargers last week thanks in part to self-inflicted wounds, but failed to get those cleaned up before the 49ers came into Paul Brown Stadium. The 49ers got half of their points off of muffed punt recoveries.
Defensively, the Bengals played one of the best games of the season. They made stops when they needed, and for the most part, kept the scoring to a minimum, even when the offense had a short field to work with.
Meanwhile, the 49ers defense pressured Burrow relentlessly. He was able to overcome the pressure late, but Nick Bosa and the other linemen made their presence felt all game long.
Once Burrow was able to work around the pressure, the offense put up some quick points. A few Bengals also put up some season milestones against the 49ers. Joe Mixon passed 1,000 yards on the season, while Ja’Marr Chase reached the 1,000-yard milestone and double-digit touchdown mark. Chase became the fifth rookie in NFL history to reach both of those milestones.
The Bengals started really well on defense, only giving up one first down on the first two drives. They forced a punt, but Darius Phillips muffed it and gave it back to the 49ers right outside the red zone.
The defense continued to play well, but they still gave up three points off of the shortened field. Robbie Gould came in for the 33-yard kick, and the veteran kicker gave the Niners the 3-0 lead with 6:37 remaining in the first quarter.
The Bengals kept letting the balls get away from them early. They had three fumbles, one that was lost, and two drops in the first five plays including special teams. But Burrow put the ball in the reliable hands of Tyler Boyd, who had two important gains to move the chains for the Bengals. The offense got to fourth-and-two, but after a timeout, Evan McPherson came out to attempt a 37-yard field goal. The kick was good, and with 31 seconds left in the quarter, the Bengals had it tied at three points apiece.
A big question for the 49ers coming into this week was the health of their playmaking receiver Deebo Samuel. He was perfectly fine for the Bengals, as he showed off his wheels on an end-around that he took 27 yards in to the end zone. After the extra point, the 49ers had a 10-3 lead with 12:-5 remaining until halftime.
For the first time in weeks, the Bengals got a tipped ball going their way. A Burrow pass intended for Boyd ended up with Ja’Marr Chase, who took it down to the 19-yard line. That resulted in a 28-yard chipshot for McPherson right before the half, though the Bengals still trailed 10-6 with 1:42 to go in the second.
The Bengals did a great job getting the 49ers to punt with over a minute left and two timeouts left. But Phillips struck again and lost his second muffed punt of the game. They almost had another stop, but Vonn Bell drew a classic “crackdown” taunting penalty. The next play went to George Kittle for a 14-yard touchdown. After the extra point, the Bengals trailed 17-6 going into the half.
Going into the half, the 49ers had 10 points off of muffed punts. Not only did those errors give the 49ers extra points, but it took away potential points from the Bengals’ offense.
All in all, it was another week of the Bengals getting in their own way once again. The Bengals had more yards, more first downs, and fewer penalties, but because of the turnovers and mistakes, they only had six points to show for it.
Garoppolo kept looking for Kittle on the next drive, and the big tight end got 36 yards on the next drive. The Bengals kept the Niners out of the end zone, and Gould came in for the three-pointer. The 20-yard kick was good, and the 49ers extended their lead 20-6 with 7:43 left in the third quarter.
The Bengals benefited from a couple of sacks from the defense, and forced the 49ers to a short punt. They got into a fourth-and-five around the red zone, and Burrow scrambled around the pocket until Chase got loose in the end zone. Chase barely kept his feet in, but the catch counted for a 17-yard touchdown. After the Bengals’ first touchdown of the game, they were only down a score, 20-13 with 9:20 remaining in the game.
The Bengals had one more chance to score from deep in their own territory. Burrow had two passes of 20-plus yards to Higgins and Boyd to approach striking range with over a minute left to go. The drive ended with a lob to Chase that was good for a 32-yard touchdown. The Bengals covered 87 yards in 81 seconds on the scoring drive, and they had the game tied at 20-20 with 1:19 remaining in the game.
BURROW TO CHASE AGAIN— PFF CIN Bengals (@PFF_Bengals) December 13, 2021
The Bengals still had to stop the 49ers from getting a field goal. But Kittle struck again and made a play when the 49ers needed it most. Kittle extended and used every inch of his frame for a crucial third-down catch to put the ball at the 29-yard line. But the 17th-year veteran Gould missed the 47-yard field goal to send the game into overtime.
The first play of overtime was a 26-yard pass to Higgins. Burrow’s next pass was a 23-yard pass to C.J. Uzomah. Bosa took Burrow down on the following third-down, so McPherson came on for a 47-yard field goal. The kick was good, and the Bengals had the lead for the first time, up 23-20 with 6:15 left in overtime.
The 49ers went to Kittle again and again. Their last play was a 12-yard outside pass to Brandon Aiyuk. It was originally ruled to be out of bounds at the one, but after a review, the officials confirmed that it was, in fact, the game-winning touchdown.
After the loss, the Bengals dropped out of the playoff picture with a 7-6 record. Meanwhile, the 7-6 49ers strengthened their position in the NFC Wild Card race.
The Bengals will head to Denver next week to take on the 7-6 Broncos.