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Film Room: Bengals Defense Shines in Crunch Time

How the Bengals defense closed out the season-shifting win over the 49ers.

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at San Francisco 49ers Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Scoring on their first two drives, the Cincinnati Bengals forced the 49ers to play catch-up all day long, but it was the defense that really put San Francisco on ice at the end of the day.

Starting strong on offense was huge, but the Bengals failed to truly capitalize on getting the ball to start the second half. The true advantage of this is the opportunity to get two scores in a row.

The Bengals were on the brink of scoring to end the first half, but an Irv Smith fumble squandered that opportunity. Instead, all they came away with was a field goal to start the second half.

The defense stepped up to create turnovers and put the 49ers away in the second half.

Of course, first they had to stop the San Francisco counter.

After a three-and-out by the Bengals offense, the 49ers offense put together a nice drive, hitting Brandin Aiyuk and George Kittle for some big gains.

On first and goal, the 49ers called a shuttle pass to Kittle, but Hubbard was all over it, forcing Brock Purdy to scramble and attempt to create. That’s why the 49ers got called for an illegal man down the field because Purdy was forced off-script by the Bengals' defense.

Then, Germaine Pratt made an absolutely insane play and got the interception.

While Pratt’s play may have prevented a score by San Francisco, it did not lead to points for the Bengals.

On the first play of the next drive, the Bengals' defense continued to do what they do best: create opportunities for Joe Burrow.

This time it was Logan Wilson reading Purdy and getting underneath the dig route.

The offense wasted no time capitalizing on the turnover as Burrow hit Ja’Marr Chase on the fake slip-screen go.

San Francisco was able to respond on their next drive, but they took nearly five minutes off the clock and still trailed by seven.

Cincinnati would counter with their own scoring drive, taking five more minutes off the field despite not having a third down on the drive.

Joe Mixon’s touchdown run gave the Bengals a 14-point lead with less than three minutes to play,

While the 49ers had their backs against the wall, it was the Cincinnati defense that seemed to be playing with the most urgency.

As Kittle crossed into Bengals territory for a big gain, Dax Hill ripped at the ball, trying to create a turnover.

Two plays later, Mike Hilton picked off Purdy, but a penalty negated the play.

Finally, a strip sack by Trey Hendrickson sealed San Francisco’s fate.

This is a championship defense.