A season of ups and downs arrives at a heartbreaking loss for the Cincinnati Bengals. In their third-straight home game, the Bengals fell to the San Francisco 49ers 26-23 in overtime and subsequently fell out of the current playoff picture with a 7-6 record.
Much like their Week 4 game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Bengals found themselves down two scores at the half in front of their home crowd. The 49ers increased their 17-6 lead to 20-6 at the end of the third quarter, and the game looked like it was over. But Joe Burrow kept the game alive with two touchdown passes to Ja’Marr Chase and the defense stopped the 49ers’ offense from scoring for the remainder of regulation. It wasn’t enough as the 49ers scored a walk-off touchdown with 1:53 left in overtime.
San Francisco could only win the game with a touchdown because Cincinnati opted to kick a field goal following two conservative run plays inside San Fran’s 26-yard line. It seemed as if head coach Zac Taylor was settling for three points and putting his faith in the defense to end the game. His faith was not rewarded, and an unfortunate streak for Taylor remained alive because of it.
Taylor is now 0-24 as the Bengals’ HC in games when the team is trailing at the end of the third period.
Zac Taylor 0-23 (!!!!) when trailing after the third quarter. WELP.— Chris Roling (@Chris_Roling) December 12, 2021
Week 4 was the only time the Bengals have come from behind this season and won. That’s good in the sense that the majority of their wins have been convincing, but it does speak to their inability to correct mistakes and find ways to win when everything isn’t clicking.
The Bengals made plenty of on-field blunders in this latest loss, but a trend like this ultimately falls on the head coach. Taylor’s conservatism was the final nail in the coffin against the 49ers, and looking back at the close wins they’ve had this year, they’ve happened because Taylor opted for aggression in critical situations. The final moments against the Minnesota Vikings and Jaguars are examples of why putting the ball in your quarterback’s hands is generally a good idea.
With four weeks remaining, this is either going to be something that keeps the Bengals out of the postseason, or it’s another adjustment Taylor will have to make for himself.