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Bengals Season Ends With First Home Loss Courtesy Of Underdog Chargers

By Danny Cox

Andy Dalton and the Cincinnati Bengals have been officially eliminated from the NFL playoffs, and it has to do with one thing and one thing only: turnovers. The Bengals weren't able to do a lot of anything in Sunday's Wild Card game against the San Diego Chargers, but they were able to commit turnovers as they gave the ball away four times.

Coaching Grade: C+

Marvin Lewis appeared to have a good plan early on as he was going to deliver a hefty dose of Giovani Bernard and BenJarvus Green-Ellis while mixing in the improving talent of Andy Dalton. Unfortunately, Dalton couldn't do much but give the ball over to the Chargers and that put the Bengals in a hole that made them abandon the running game.

From that point, there was not much the Bengals could do on offense but pass the ball. As the game progressed, the defense couldn't do anything to stop the Chargers from scoring. The game plan had to be thrown away and absolutely nothing worked.

Offense Grade: D+

Sure, Dalton had 334 passing yards, but that's not much to be happy with. Bernard had 45 yards on the ground and Green-Ellis had 42, which goes to show you that the running game was working. The problem here is that the ball was turned over repeatedly and it stopped the running game from even being an option.

Dalton threw two interceptions and lost one fumble while Bernard lost another. Giving the Chargers a short field didn't help any, and it stopped the offense from being anything but passing-oriented.

Defense Grade: C

The Bengals defense didn't do a bad job for the most part. Philip Rivers was held to a mere 128 yards, but the running game is what killed them. Ronnie Brown had 77 yards and a touchdown. Danny Woodhead had 54 yards and a touchdown and Ryan Mathews racked up another 52 yards.

San Diego ran all over the Bengals and there was nothing they could do to stop it. While the Chargers amassed just over 300 yards of total offense, they didn't need to do much with the short fields generated by turnovers.

Special Teams Grade: B+

Mike Nugent hit his lone field goal attempt for 46 yards.

Zoltan Mesko had a good game in punting the ball as two of his three kicks were downed inside the Chargers 20-yard line.

Brandon Tate was able to give the Bengals decent starting field position on kickoff returns, but not a lot was done with the ball once the offense got on the field.

For more Bengals news and updates, visit Bengals Central.

Danny Cox knows a little something about the NFL, whether it means letting you know what penalty will come from the flag just thrown on the field or quickly spouting off who the Chicago Bears drafted in the first round of the 1987 draft (Jim Harbaugh). He plans on bringing you the best news, previews, recaps, and anything else that may come along with the exciting world of the National Football League. Danny is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on

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