Make no mistake about it. The Cincinnati Bengals lost for a lot of reasons. More than anything, poor pass protection and an uncharacteristically bad performance from Joe Burrow in the first half dug the team into a deep hole.
However, there are a couple of decisions from Bengals head coach Zac Taylor that deserve scrutiny.
Ja’Marr Chase scored a touchdown but didn’t get the points
Okay, at the time, the Bengals were down by six.
Who knows if they would’ve scored the extra point after to get the lead with less than three minutes remaining but Burrow and Chase would’ve at least tied the ballgame in their connection at the goal line. Instead, the offense went into hurry-up mode and failed to score afterward.
The play was surprisingly not challenged by Zac Taylor.
“Part of it was that’s the hardest place for us to see in the entire field is that spot,” said the Bengals head coach. “I didn’t think there was a chance there was a touchdown there initially so we got on the ball to run it in quickly. It’s hard with all the craziness at that moment all the communication to get that (stopped).”
That’s a tough one for the Bengals coaching staff. Perhaps it’s nothing more than bad timing to want to go hurry up. Then again, the staff should’ve been ready for that situation.
It was a clear touchdown from Chase and we’ll be left wondering if things could’ve been somewhat different. Steelers would’ve played a tied ballgame with 1:51 to go instead of with a lead.
Third-down field goal attempt
Let’s look at the logic for the Bengals’ decision-making here, because, to be fair, there’s solid reasoning behind it. Knowing the long snapper was out, Cincinnati wanted to kick the field goal on third down in case there was a bad snap. If there was, they could choose to not kick it during the play and take another shot at it on fourth down.
Behind this reasoning was some trust in Mitch Wilcox, who was snapping the ball for the Bengals after Clark Harris’ injury.
“Mitch (Wilcox) has been the guy,” said Taylor postgame, indicating Wilcox was already practicing for the backup role.
Yet it’s a tough decision to get behind with. The Bengals had already gotten a look at how troublesome the PAT/FG operation looked. Didn’t Joe Burrow and his high-end collection of weapons deserve one more play on third-and-eight?
It just feels like Cincinnati was better off betting on the offense on third down before handing the keys to Wilcox as the long snapper. Not playing for the touchdown here seemed like a classic edition of “loss-aversion” decision-making.
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