After sweeping both the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers for the first time in franchise history, the Cincinnati Bengals were looking for their first ever win in Oakland on Sunday.
However, three lost fumbles and a missed field goal proved to be the Bengals’ undoing. They failed to sack Raiders QB Bruce Gradkowski as he drove 80 yards in 11 plays to tie the game at 17. It was bad enough the Bengals had played down to the level of the 2-7 Raiders. Despite two rushing touchdowns from QB Carson Palmer, they just couldn’t seem to land the knockout blow.
With 33 seconds remaining in the game, one had to wonder why WR Andre Caldwell was in for RB Bernard Scott to receive the ensuing kick after the Raiders had tied the game. When Caldwell fumbled, allowing Sebastian Janikowski to kick the game-winning field goal, you had to demand an answer.
After the game, Scott admitted he had been suffering from leg cramps, so Caldwell was sent in as a replacement. The costly cramps set the stage for the final anomaly, which led to the Bengals’ first road loss of the season.
Ironically, Scott’s legs had grown weary while he was filling in for Cedric Benson, who had the day off due to a hip flexor injury. While posting the first 100-yard game of his career, Scott’s workload kept him off the field when the team needed him most.
When asked about the significance of last week’s win in Pittsburgh, to a man the Bengals believed its importance would have to be validated with a win in Oakland. Regardless, there is no denying this is a special year for the Bengals. After losing in Oakland, the Bengals still managed to stay ahead of their division opponents – because every AFC North team lost in Week 11.
With upcoming games against Cleveland and Detroit, the Bengals will have to prove they can play above the competition and remain the dominant team we thought they were.