Balanced Bengals offense sets up 24-19 win over Chargers
CINCINNATI (AP) The Bengals weren’t about to let it happen again.
Andy Dalton threw three touchdown passes – each to a different receiver – and Giovani Bernard ran for 123 yards on Sunday, leading Cincinnati to a 24-19 win over the San Diego Chargers that had some subtext.
The Bengals (2-0) lost to the Chargers (1-1) in a first-round playoff game two years ago at Paul Brown Stadium, part of their run of no postseason victories since 1990. The Bengals have lost in the playoffs each of the last four years, but that one still stings because it was the only one that came at home.
”It was already programmed in our mind: Never forget,” cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick said. ”They came in and they shocked us.”
The two Bengals who made huge mistakes in that game led them to the win in the rematch.
Dalton had three second-half turnovers during the playoff defeat. He was on target Sunday, completing 16 of 26 for 214 yards. He threw to nine different receivers, a sign of the Bengals’ depth of playmakers.
”It’s our offense,” Dalton said. ”There’s different things we can do. We have a good mix of everything.”
Bernard had a game-turning fumble during the playoff loss. On Sunday, he took over as the primary running back after Jeremy Hill fumbled twice.
”Once you have that confidence, everything else just kind of falls in place,” Bernard said. ”Andy is doing a good job conducting us around.”
Philip Rivers made some history for the Chargers, but couldn’t get them a win.
He completed his first two passes on Sunday before missing one, leaving him with a streak of 22 consecutive completions over two games. It’s two shy of Donovan McNabb’s NFL record and tied for third in league history.
He also surpassed Dan Fouts for career touchdown passes by a Charger.
”It’s humbling to think about,” said Rivers, whose final pass was picked off at midfield by Vinny Rey with 53 seconds left. ”It’s not as sweet right now because we lost the game. Once I’ve had a chance to take a deep breath and look back, I’ll be thankful.”
Some things to take away from the game:
IMPRESSIVE ANDY: Dalton finished 16 of 26 for 214 yards. In wins over the Raiders and Chargers, he’s gone 41 of 60 for 483 yards with five touchdowns, no interceptions and no sacks, which translates to a passer rating of 120.4.
GIO’S BACK: Bernard slipped into a backup role when Hill emerged as the starter last season. His 20 carries on Sunday were his most in 13 games. He topped 100 yards for the second time in his career – he had 137 during an overtime tie with Carolina last season.
RIVERS’ RECORDS: Rivers threw two touchdown passes, moving him ahead of Fouts and Sonny Jurgensen into 14th on the all-time list with 256. His 22 consecutive completions tie Joe Montana, Mark Brunell, David Carr and Matt Ryan for third all-time. Besides McNabb’s 24 completions, Peyton Manning completed 23 in a row.
PUSHED AROUND: The Chargers’ cobbled offensive line struggled to protect Rivers in the second half, with tackle Geno Atkins getting into the backfield repeatedly. The Bengals had four sacks and forced Rivers to get rid of the ball quicker than he wanted.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW: The Bengals benefited from a review late in the first half. Dalton was hit by Manti Te’o as his arm started forward, resulting in a fumble that Jerry Attaochu returned for a touchdown. After a review, it was ruled an incompletion, and the Bengals took a 14-6 lead into halftime.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL