Ten Reasons Why the Bengals Lost to the Raiders

Eric BallFeatured ColumnistNovember 23, 2009

OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 22:  Justin Fargas #25 of the Oakland Raiders runs against Leon Hall #29 of the Cincinnati Bengals during an NFL game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on November 22, 2009 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Talk about your classic "Don't let a bad team hang around" game. The Cincinnati Bengals couldn’t hold a 14-0 lead and let the Raiders slowly inch back into this ugly contest. The Raiders scored 10 unanswered points over the final minute to take a 20-17 win. How did this possibly happen?
1. The playcalling on offense. The Bengals abandoned the passing game in the second half. Offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski called way too many runs on second and third and long. Bernard Scott did rush for 119 yards on 19 carries but didn’t convert enough third downs to run out the clock.
Fullback Jermi Johnson had a key fourth quarter fumble with the Bengals inside the Raiders 15-yard line. He almost never gets a carry, why decide to give him one when Scott was running so well? For the day the Bengals had three fumbles and QB Carson Palmer’s last hail mary was picked off to make it four total turnovers.
2. The previously invincible offensive line couldn’t protect Palmer in the second half. The Raiders were getting consistent pressure which led to an antsy Palmer. He rushed numerous throws in addition to the strip-fumble
3. Shayne “franchise tag” Graham shanked a 37-yard field goal that ended up costing his team. This guy used to have the highest percentage of made field goals of all-time. He is now a below average kicker that will most likely not be a Bengal next year.
4. Defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer allowed rookie nickel cornerback Morgan Trent to “cover” Raiders wide receiver Louis Murphy on the final drive.
Trent got twisted around when getting burned by Murphy’s game-tying, 29-yard TD with 33 seconds remaining. The rookie sixth-round draft pick has played well up to today, but QB Bruce Gradkowski kept throwing his way in the fourth quarter.
This was the first game the Bengals really could have used recently IR’ed safety Roy Williams.
5. With Bernard Scott (21 carries, 119 yards) promoted to starting tailback in the wake of Benson’s deactivation, the kickoff return job fell by default back to Andre Caldwell.
Caldwell fumbled Oakland’s kickoff with 0:27 on the clock, setting up Sebastian Janikowski’s game-winning, 33-yard field goal with 0:15 remaining. Caldwell shouldn’t have even returned it as he caught the ball mid-way in the end zone.
Scott had returned a kick to the house last week against Pittsburgh after a mediocre performance by Caldwell to start the season.
6. Their opening drive, which went for a touchdown, was more crappy magazine than textbook perfection. The drive covered 78 yards, but included six plays for negative yards. Three were penalties. Chad OchoCinco had two false starts and the team overall seemed to lack focus.
7. Cincinnati is 0-10 in Oakland, 1-14 on the road vs. the Raiders. Not sure what it means but that is not a good stat for the Bengals. The Oakland Coliseum was half empty and the crowd was a non-factor. Didn’t matter
8. The Bengals have scored less than 20 points six times in 10 games. Since putting up 45 against the Bears, the Bengals have combined to score 45 in the last three games.
9. The prevent D in the last two minutes. Soft coverage, shoddy tackling, and no pressure on the QB… sound like a recipe for success??
10. Jonathan Joseph lets a game-ending interception fly right through his hands. On one of the final plays on the game-tying TD drive, QB Bruce Gradkowski threw a rocket that Joseph jumped the route and simply didn’t catch.
“We didn’t play winning football long enough or consistently enough. When you don’t win we better learn a hell of a lesson because we paid a hell of a price.”

—Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said after the game. Sounds about right.