Let me begin by reiterating how difficult it is being a San Diego Chargers' fan. I had the displeasure of watching them lose their 7th game this season to the Cincinnati Bengals by a score of 17-10--yet another relatively close and heartbreaking loss, and in those powder blue jerseys which I don't care for.
San Diego kept it close in the first half with a halftime score of 7-7 but then Cincinnati QB Andy Dalton and his RB tandem of BenJarvus Green-Ellis and rookie Giovani Bernard lit up the second half offensively. Chargers QB Philip Rivers went 23-of-37 for 252 yards, one touchdown, and one interception that really wasn't his fault. Dalton completed 14-of-23 for 190 yards, one touchdown, and one interception as well. Chargers' rookie WR Keenan Allen added to his impressive stats with 8 catches for 106 yards; however, he lost a crucial 4th-quarter fumble.
So, what did we learn in today's game, aside from the fact that the Chargers are far too inconsistent and that every match-up between these two teams can't be as great as the 12 November 2006 one where San Diego rallied from a 21-0 halftime deficit to win 49-41 with the help of LaDanian Tomlinson's four touchdowns?
1. CB Richard Marshall is infinitely better than Derek Cox. Today Marshall was responsible for six tackles, two assists, and prevented a 4th quarter TD pass from Andy Dalton to WR Marvin Jones with 9:26 left in the game, thus forcing the Bengals to settle for a 46-yard Mike Nugent field goal. As I mentioned last week, it's time for Cox to go.
2. What the heck is wrong with TE Antonio Gates? The former Mr. Sure Hands was anything but today, dropping several "sure" catches, losing a fumble, and letting CB Dre Kirkpatrick rip the ball out of his hands for an "interception" in the third quarter.
3. Contrary to what Kermit the frog thinks, today it was, in fact, easy being (a) Green. Bengals' WR A.J. Green snagged five catches for 83 yards and a touchdown; Chargers' TE Ladarius Green had a pair of receptions for 45 yards and caught Philip Rivers' only touchdown pass; and even BenJarvus Green-Ellis (at least he's half Green) managed 20 carries for 92 yards and a touchdown.
4. San Diego is a horrible sports team city. In addition to the failure of city officials to understand the potential tourist and financial implications a Super Bowl would bring to the bankrupt city by failing to construct a new stadium, the game was blacked out (AGAIN) due to inadequate ticket sales. Way to go fans! If you really want to lose the team, by all means continue on. This blackout also resulted in my not being able to watch the game on NFL Sunday Ticket's Game Mix Channel but, instead, having to flip back and forth during commercials and adding considerably to my already dangerously-high stress level.
5. Bengals' OLB Vontaze Burfict is an amazing addition to the Cincinnati team. The undrafted second-year player out of Arizona State recorded a very-impressive 11 tackles and two assists today and was seemingly in the middle of every crucial defensive play on the Bengals' side. This was, indeed, a nice change from his performance in week 3 versus Green Bay where Burfict was fined $31,000 for various unnecessary roughness penalties.
Next week the Chargers host the struggling New York Giants while the Bengals host the Indianapolis Colts who are currently atop the AFC South.