A 26-23 overtime result came courtesy of key mistakes at critical moments and some notable struggles by the sideline (coaches) and players (offensive line).
Now dropping to 7-6, the Bengals see their playoff chances in some serious trouble as they head to Denver next week for a date with the Broncos.
Before that gets underway, here’s everything to know about Sunday’s result.
Final score: 26-23
Dec 12, 2021; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase (1) dives for the ball during the second quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports
Keys to the game
Cincinnati Bengals fans celebrate the win in the fourth quarter during a Week 12 NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday, Nov. 28, 2021, at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati. The Cincinnati Bengals won, 41-10.
Pittsburgh Steelers At Cincinnati Bengals Nov 28
Turnovers: Cincinnati muffed two punts courtesy of Darius Phillips in the first half and ultimately turned it over two times compared to zero for the 49ers…Trey Hendrickson: This one goes both ways. The Bengals defense looked good until Hendrickson left with an injury. From there, the unit just couldn’t generate pressure the same and 49ers took advantage…Offensive line: Cincinnati’s line, seemingly fully healthy, had some major problems on Sunday. Burrow was able to overcome those in key moments, but the line was too inconsistent, too often for the offense to pull ahead and stay that way.
It was over when…
Dec 12, 2021; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) looks down field as San Francisco 49ers defensive end Charles Omenihu (92) defends during the first quarter at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports
…Zac Taylor got conservative on the first drive of overtime and settled for a field goal. The Bengals couldn’t stop the 49ers from marching down the field and scoring the touchdown that won it.
Bengals’ Top Performers
Dec 12, 2021; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase (1) catches a pass during warmups prior to the game against the San Francisco 49ers at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports
QB Joe Burrow: 25/34, 300 yards, 2 TD
RB Joe Mixon: 18 rushes, 58 yards
WR Tee Higgins: 5 catches, 114 yards
WR Ja’Marr Chase: 5 catches, 77 yards, 2 TD
CB Chidobe Awuzie: 6 tackles, 2 passes defended
DT Larry Ogunjobi: 4 tackles, 2 sack
Dec 12, 2021; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase (1) runs with the ball during warmups prior to the game against the San Francisco 49ers at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports
Star pass-rusher Trey Hendrickson left with a back injury near the end of the first half and was quickly ruled out.
Right tackle Riley Reiff left the game with an ankle injury (no word on whether it’s the one that kept him out last week).
Important game notes
Dec 12, 2021; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) snaps the ball against the San Francisco 49ers in the first half at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports
— Brutal focus issues for the Bengals to start the game. Ja’Marr Chase’s drop issues continued with a drop on a third down that would’ve moved the chains. Darius Phillips then had another issue on special teams, muffing a punt, which the 49ers recovered.
— San Francisco’s first touchdown (to make it 10-3) featured five straight runs after they reached the 50-yard line. 49ers were doing whatever they wanted on the ground when the Bengals rotated out DT D.J. Reader.
— Like a loss the week prior, Bengals just weren’t doing the bare minimum in terms of execution. Of note besides what’s already mentioned, Chase dropped a touchdown (an admittedly tough one) and Vonn Bell got hit with a taunting penalty that led to a 49ers touchdown to make it 17-6. That, after Phillips fumbled yet another punt return.
— The Bengals lost elite pass-rusher Trey Hendrickson to a back injury.
— With the 49ers down two starting CBs and Cincinnati’s running game halted in the first half, the Bengals came out of halftime and…ran three straight times for a three-and-out. It was a stunning lack of adjustments by the coaching staff.
— Later, in the redzone, Burrow took a sack on third down, then Evan McPherson missed a field-goal try while down 20-6. Just a complete collapse when the team needed to be at its best.
— It’ll be interesting to break down film all week and analyze whether the coaches couldn’t change up the play-calling because of bad player performances (offensive line, especially) or simply refused to.
— Despite the line play and play-calling, Burrow worked some magic on a lengthy scramble before finding Chase for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Exhilarating, though also exhausting that he has to work this hard to keep his team relevant in a game.
— More of the same on the team’s final chance in regulation. Burrow stood in and took multiple big hits on dime-worthy throws, then found Chase for another touchdown to tie things up with less than two minutes left.
— A good capper for the theme to this game? Jessie Bates nearly had a pick-six to end the game, then the 49ers missed the game-winning kick, sending things to overtime.
— Bengals suffered another sack on a third down on the first drive of overtime. Coaches opted to settle for the field goal, which put the team in danger of outright losing if the 49ers scored a touchdown.
Dec 12, 2021; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Trey Hendrickson (91) reacts after sacking San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (not pictured) in the first half at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports
The Bengals hit the road for the first time in three weeks for a date against the Denver Broncos.
Those Broncos are 7-6 with playoff hopes in the AFC still, so it’s a huge game for the Bengals before going on to play in more AFC North games.