Another week and another thriller including the Cincinnati Bengals. There’s no doubt that the history runs deep between these two teams.
Unfortunately, the home team came up short again. A number of self-inflicted errors plagued the day, as the Bengals inched closer to a .500 team. Here are some of the best and worst individual performances of the day.
No. 83 was part of the early game plan and responded well. Whether it was on carries or catches, Boyd contributed to the Bengals’ offensive effort. And, when the special teams unit failed them, Boyd stepped in to return punts and had four catches for 55 yards.
With Chase continuing to struggle finding consistency, Higgins remained a great middle-of-the-field option. No. 85 had a number of great catches, including beautiful ones to set up the final three scoring drives for Cincinnati. Higgins had his third-straight 100-yard receiving game with 114 on five catches.
Ja’Marr Chase, who giveth:
Aside from a small handful of plays, the wide receiver continues to flash. He had an amazing ballet-like touchdown in the fourth quarter to start the comeback by the Bengals. He also added in a couple of drive-sustaining grabs throughout the contest and another score to put the game to overtime.
These, of course, come with their share of frustrating plays. Chase missed a diving touchdown grab in the second quarter, to go along with a couple of other would-be big-plays, but still....he’s good.
The interior lineman they traded for with New York came through huge on Sunday. He had a sack and was a constant presence in the backfield.
Without Trey Hendrickson for most of the game, as well as Joseph Ossai out for the year, Hobby was forced to call an audible up front. While it was inconsistent at times, Cincinnati’s defensive front forced five sacks of Jimmy Garoppolo and six total tackles for loss.
The special teams experiment with the athletic defensive back is over. In his lone duty on the team, Phillips had a costly muffed punt to net the 49ers a field goal. It would be palatable if Phillips was popping big plays with regularity and/or if it was his only major mistake of the day.
The Bengals’ defense held strong right before the half and got the offense the ball back with time. On another punt return opportunity, Phillips had his second muffed punt of the evening, putting the 49ers in scoring position, yet again.
The special teams unit was a major liability on Sunday. Phillips’ fumble on the punt proved costly, as it gave the 49ers the ball deep in Cincinnati territory. Stanley Morgan also bobbled a kickoff subsequent to the Phillips fumble, costing the Bengals big field position and torpedoed another drive.
In all, Simmons’ return men accounted for three total fumbles (two lost) on the afternoon. It was an absolutely unbelievable set of circumstances from the unit headed by one of the best special teams coaches in the NFL.
As if the fumbles weren’t enough, the Bengals’ prized rookie kicker missed a big kick in the third quarter. After a sack of Burrow pushing the attempt back to 46 yards, Evan McPherson pushed one wide right, which ended up costing the team greatly, given the end score.
Like Phillips, the usually-stable and unsung hero, Morgan, had major special teams gaffes. Unlike No. 23, Morgan’s didn’t end up as turnovers and one ended up being a big reversed call on what looked like another fumble. However, one could make the argument that they cost the team points—especially the first one.
After Phillips bobbled the first punt, Simmons entrusted Morgan with the kickoff return duties. He responded with a bobble there and then almost had another precarious one right before the half, but was called down by contact.
We can blame Burrow for some of the sacks he’s taken this year and there’s no doubt Pollack deserves credit with the resurgence of facets of the offense, but the solid 49ers defensive line gave fits to Cincinnati’s offensive front.
San Francisco had five sacks of Burrow and six total tackles for loss. To boot, the Bengals managed just 86 rushing yards and a 3.3 yards per carry average as a team.
We all know it was a ticky-tack un-sportsman-like call before the half, but pointing is literally in the letter of the rule. Cincinnati already had an issue with the Phillips fumble, but seemed to avoid major damage with a third-down stand. Bell’s “point heard ‘round the world” contributed to the costing of another touchdown by the Bengals.
Prior to this and at first blush, it appeared that Bell also took a poor angle on the Deebo Samuel rushing touchdown. He had some good moments, but also some that left to be desired.
Cleveland did Cincinnati a favor by beating the Ravens earlier on Sunday, and with the Steelers losing, the Bengals were in position to to reclaim the AFC North. All they had to do was play clean football and take care of business.
The comedy of errors on special teams aside, the lack of awareness by Bell on the penalty was also part-and-parcel of the self-implosion. Additionally, the Bengals’ offensive game plan to open the second half was...questionable.
Down 11 points to open the second half, Taylor dialed up three straight runs that netted nine yards. Someone make it make sense, please.
We know the Bengals are a young team and errors are going to occur, but in crunch time and in clutch games, this team still has moments of tripping over their own feet. To Taylor’s credit, the Bengals battled back to get a lead in overtime, but they seemed unprepared for yet another big game.