Dalton, Green lead Bengals to 17-10 win vs Bolts

With a blue-collar, workmanlike approach, the Cincinnati Bengals

knocked the San Diego Chargers back to reality while protecting

their two-game lead in the AFC North.

The Bengals ran for 164 yards. They held Philip Rivers to just

252 yards passing. They forced three turnovers and preyed on a big

breakdown in coverage.

”Down and dirty,” cornerback Adam Jones said after the Bengals

beat the Chargers 17-10 on Sunday, holding San Diego’s high-powered

offense to a season-low in points and wearing down its defense.

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

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

Bengals (8-4), who were coming off their bye, to keep a two-game

lead 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.”

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.”

With the score tied at 7, the Bengals got the ball after Dre

Kirkpatrick ripped the ball 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.

”Obviously they jacked the coverage up a little bit and missed

assignments in the middle and it worked out well for us,” said

Dalton, who added that the Bengals’ power running game helped set

up that play.

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 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.”

On the Bengals’ next drive, Andrew Hawkins caught a short pass

from Dalton on third-and-2 from the Bengals 18 and raced 50 yards

to the San Diego 32, where he was pushed out of bounds. The Bengals

settled for Mike Nugent’s 46-yard field goal for a 17-7 lead.

The Bengals appeared to be driving for a score that would have

put away the game, but BenJarvus Green-Ellis fumbled when he was

hit by Gilchrist.

Weddle recovered and returned it 27 yards to the San Diego 43.

The drive stalled and Nick Novak kicked a 48-yard field goal to

pull to 17-10 with 4:43 left.

A personal foul against Johnnie Troutman after the field goal

forced the Chargers to kick off from their 20 and Brandon Tate

returned it 24 yards to the Bengals 34 and Cincinnati ran out the

clock.

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

57 yards on 14 carries.

San Diego held the Bengals to 104 yards in the first half and

then gave up 250 in the second half.

Rookie coach Mike McCoy said his defense ”fell apart.”

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 Chargers responded with a long drive capped when second-year

tight end Ladarius Green split linebackers Rey Maualuga and Vontaze

Burfict and was wide open for a 30-yard touchdown reception to tie

the game at 7.

Mostly, though, the Chargers struggled.

”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.

”This is a good team,” Rivers said. ”Let an opportunity pass

us by? Yes. It wasn’t like we had it in our grasp and they came in

here and stole it from us. We knew we were going to have to play

well.”

Said 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.”

NOTES: Chargers rookie Keenan Allen had eight catches for 106

yards, the fifth 100-yard game for the third-round draft pick from

Cal. … Chargers CB Derek Cox was benched in favor of Richard

Marshall. Cox had been benched in three of the four previous games.

… Bengals LG Clint Boling hurt his right knee late in the first

quarter.

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