Much of the talk among bettors, bookmakers, and the pay per head crowd was about the showdown between the Chargers and Bengals in Cincinnati. It was the number one overall pick in 2020, Joe Burrow, facing the sixth overall pick, Justin Herbert.
Two quarterbacks that their draft class will forever link, and many hope for an AFC rivalry that will extend for the next 15 years. The AFC is stacked with great young quarterbacks, and these two are a pair of the best and brightest.
Fast Start For L.A.
From the outset, anticipation was high for a competitive matchup between both teams. However, the Bengals experienced their most lackluster first quarter of the season, while the Chargers showcased their best performance.
Early in the game, Justin Herbert made a series of remarkable plays, connecting with Mike Williams for gains of 41 and 47 yards, as well as delivering a 44-yard touchdown pass to Jalen Guyton. Keenan Allen also contributed with a pair of short touchdown receptions, enabling the Chargers to establish a commanding 24-point lead.
Herbert’s exceptional performance played a pivotal role in the Chargers’ dominant start. Nevertheless, the Bengals inadvertently contributed to their own downfall. Joe Burrow threw an interception and lost a fumble during Cincinnati’s initial two possessions, further aiding the Chargers’ advantage. Additionally, the Bengals struggled to generate a successful running game against the Chargers, despite the expectation that they would exploit L.A.’s weak run defense, ranked as the worst in the NFL.
The fumble by Burrow not only provided the Chargers with a favorable field position but also resulted in a dislocated pinkie for Burrow himself. Consequently, Burrow visibly endured discomfort while throwing the ball for the remainder of the game.
It’s become a joke or cliche. The Chargers are going to Charge. Perhaps no team in the last five, ten, or decades going back has found more interesting, unique, and heartbreaking ways to lose a football game. And blowing a 24-point lead against an injured quarterback certainly would count as “Chargering” – as it’s become known.
First, a Burrow touchdown pass to Tee Higgins made the score 24-6. Then after an Austin Ekeler fumble and long return down to the Charger’s 19-yard line, Burrow ran the ball in to make the score 24-13.
Cincinnati got the ball to begin the second half, and they marched down for a field goal, making it 24-16. Then after another Ekeler fumble, the Bengals got a touchdown run from Mixon but missed on the two-point conversion. That made the score 24-22, and it was looking like an epic Chargers collapse was brewing.
Chargers Turn It Back On
Starting the fourth quarter, the Bengals had possession of the football and trailed by only two points, seemingly in control of the game. However, the quarter concluded with a resounding victory for the Chargers, sealing a blowout result.
On the pivotal possession that could have given the Bengals the lead, Joe Mixon fumbled the football, and the Chargers capitalized by returning the turnover for a touchdown. Following a successful defensive stop, the Chargers orchestrated another touchdown drive, extending their lead to 38-22. Adding to the Bengals’ woes, Joe Burrow threw an interception, allowing the Chargers to add a field goal and secure a commanding 41-38 victory.
The Chargers displayed dominance by scoring the first 24 points of the game and closing it out with the final 17 points. These scoring runs proved more than sufficient to counter the Bengals’ streak of 22 consecutive points scored during the middle of the game.
Coming Up For Both Teams
The Chargers have a relatively easy game with the Giants next, but then they host the Chiefs. If L.A. has designs on winning the division, that Thursday night game on December 16 will be a must-win.
The Bengals, are hosting the 49ers next. Then it’s a trip to Denver and a huge game the day after Christmas at home against the Ravens. Cincinnati is currently a game behind the Ravens in the division, but they did win in Baltimore earlier this season, and another win on December 26 would give them the tiebreaker edge.
Important for that game, and the games leading up to it is the health of Burrow and his hand. He says that he doesn’t envision his pinkie hurting any worse than it did on Sunday, so he doesn’t expect to miss any time.
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