5 things to know after Bengals beat Chargers 17-10

The Cincinnati Bengals came out to sunny San Diego and punched

the Chargers in the nose.

They did it on offense, dominating the line of scrimmage while

rushing for 164 yards.

They did it on defense, forcing three turnovers while holding

Philip Rivers to 252 yards passing and the Chargers to a season-low

in points.

”Down and dirty,” surmised cornerback Adam Jones after the

Bengals beat the Chargers 17-10 Sunday.

More importantly, the Bengals (8-4) kept their two-game lead in

the AFC North over Baltimore.

”That’s the main thing. We’re not playing just to make the

playoffs,” Jones said. ”We’re playing for the bye. We played hard

and physical on defense. If we keep playing hard and smart and

we’re going to be a real, real good team.”

Andy Dalton threw a go-ahead, 21-yard touchdown pass to

wide-open A.J. Green late in the third quarter.

San Diego (5-7) lost the momentum it gained with a thrilling

41-38 comeback win at Kansas City a week earlier. The Chargers’

slim playoff hopes dwindled after their fourth loss in five

games.

”You score 10 points, you are going to lose most of the time,”

said Rivers, who completed 23 of 37 passes for 252 yards. ”That’s

a good defense. We just weren’t consistent enough.”

Rookie coach Mike McCoy wasn’t happy with all the mistakes the

Chargers made. Plus, he said the defense ”fell apart.”

Here are five takeaways from the game:

ANDY’S DANDY: Dalton joined Peyton Manning as the only

quarterbacks to start their careers with three straight 3,000-yard

seasons. Dalton was 14 of 23 for 190 yards, giving him 3,144 for

the season. ”It’s an honor to be mentioned with a guy like

Peyton,” Dalton said. ”Peyton is one of the best in the league

and has been one of the best in the league for a long time. To do

something only he has done is big. I take pride in that.”

GOING GREEN: With the score tied at 7, the Bengals got the ball

after Dre Kirkpatrick ripped it away from tight end Antonio Gates

after a reception at the Cincinnati 25, the Chargers’ third

turnover. Ten plays later, Green split the defense for an easy

touchdown, with safety Eric Weddle and cornerback Marcus Gilchrist

only able to watch. ”It was just a seam right up the middle,

man,” said Green, who wasn’t slowed by a hip pointer sustained

during the Bengals’ first drive. ”I guess the two linebackers and

the safety went with Jermaine (Gresham) and I just came wide

open.”

BRUISING BENGALS: Cincinnati’s offensive line manhandled the

Chargers on the Bengals’ second drive, which ended with BenJarvus

Green-Ellis scoring on a 4-yard run. The Bengals also dominated on

their final drive, which ended with Dalton twice taking a knee.

Green-Ellis gained 92 yards on 20 carries. Giovani Bernard had 57

yards on 14 carries. The Bengals lost left guard Clint Boling to

what coach Marvin Lewis called a significant knee injury, but

adjusted with a reshuffled line. Tackle Andrew Whitworth played

some guard. ”Whit was obviously having fun pulling,” center Kyle

Cook said. ”He hasn’t had the opportunity to be a guard, where you

can be a lot more physical attacker than you can be at tackle.

Everyone was doing a great job out there.”

FIELD POSITION: ”We crossed the 50 I don’t know how many times

but we didn’t finish drives,” Rivers said. ”It is just not the

turnovers; those we know. But there are other drives where we just

didn’t finish and ended up punting there right around midfield and

that is critical. There was a pretty good reason why. Said Bengals

linebacker Vontaze Burfict: ”Just when they’d get to the 40-yard

line, we had to stop them. That’s what we’re good at. They cross

the 50 and everybody stepped up to make plays.”

BOLTS’ BLUNDERS: Maybe it was a good thing the game blacked out

in Southern California – a first in the NFL this season. That saved

the fans who weren’t at Qualcomm Stadium from having to watch the

Chargers commit critical penalties and get run over by the Bengals

in the second half. ”We’ve got to work on our consistency,” said

rookie linebacker Manti Te’o, who had five tackles. ”Our good

plays are great and our bad plays are real bad. We wore ourselves

down. We had opportunities to make plays and they executed. We are

going to fix those things.”

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