Bengals vs. Chargers: Takeaways from San Diego's 17-10 Loss to Cincinnati

Marcelo Villa@@_marcelovillaFeatured Columnist IIIDecember 2, 2013

Bengals vs. Chargers: Takeaways from San Diego's 17-10 Loss to Cincinnati

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    Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODA

    The San Diego Chargers were unable to improve their odds for a playoff spot on Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals.

    The Chargers lost, 17-10, at home after giving up three turnovers and were held to just three points in the second half. Cincinnati needed just 10 points in the second half to outlast a San Diego team that scored 31 the week prior against Kansas City after halftime.

    Here are takeaways from a Chargers loss that could may have put an end to playoff dreams.

Was the Knee Down?

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    Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODA

    After a 13-yard catch that would have put the Chargers in the red zone on their first drive, Antonio Gates made a rare mistake in coughing up the football.

    It was the second fumble this season for the veteran tight end and the fifth of his career. But was the knee down before the ball came out? It looked awfully close on the replay and could have gone either way.

Green in Good Form

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    Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODA

    A.J. Smith may not have an active hand in the Chargers franchise, but some of the work he's done still lingers in players like Ladarius Green—a product of Smith's final draft with San Diego in 2012.

    Green, who caught his second career touchdown pass against the Bengals, has been in good form recently. The second-year tight end has amassed 206 receiving yards and two touchdowns over the past three games.

    Green caught a 60-yard touchdown against Kansas City and a 30-yarder against Cincinnati—both plays went over the middle, and Green utilized his speed to beat the coverage to the end zone.

Lapse in Coverage Allows Third-Quarter Score

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    With the game tied at seven in the third quarter, the Chargers couldn't afford to make any mistakes on defense, but a lapse in coverage left A.J. Green wide open for an easy 21-yard touchdown.

    Looking at the replay, Donald Butler, Manti Te'o and Shareece Wright pay close attention to Giovani Bernard and Jermaine Gresham, but Green is left completely unaccounted for. 

Gates and Allen with Costly Turnovers in Second Half

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    Keenan Allen and Antonio Gates have been arguably two of San Diego's biggest playmakers, but second-half turnovers against Cincinnati by both shifted momentum away from the Chargers late in the game.

    Gates had a pass ripped right out of hands by Dre Kirkpatrick in the third quarter that Cincinnati converted for a touchdown, and Allen fumbled in the fourth quarter when the Chargers trailed by 10.

    San Diego could have turned those drives into points, but a lack of focus gave the Bengals more opportunities to put the game away.

    **Video courtesy of Marty Caswell (MartyTimeTV)**

Hawkins Burns Defense on Third Down

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    Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODA

    Needing a stop on third down with two yards to go, Andy Dalton hit Andrew Hawkins on a short slant route that went for a huge 50-yard gain in the fourth quarter.

    Johnny Patrick was beat on the coverage, and Hawkins went untouched for a huge gain till he was forced out of bounds. The Chargers and Bengals finished with almost similar numbers on third down, but Cincinnati's conversion in the fourth quarter set up a field goal by Mike Nugent that made it a two-possession game.

Allen Nearing Rookie Record

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    With the exception of his fumble, Keenan Allen had another superb game for the Chargers.

    The rookie wideout caught eight balls for 106 yards and is nearing Ladanian Tomlinson's rookie record of 59 receptions in a single season. Allen has 58 following his day against the Bengals and will look to get the record against the New York Giants next week.

Is a Postseason Run in San Diego's Future

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    Stan Liu-USA TODAY Sports

    The playoffs aren't completely out of the question for the Chargers, but the loss to Cincinnati makes the road much tougher than it would have been.

    Miami, Pittsburgh and Tennessee are all in the hunt for a playoff spot, and San Diego's loss just helped them gain some ground on Baltimore, which currently has a slight grip on the sixth seed. The Chargers currently sit in the middle of the pack with New York (Jets) threatening as well.