Bengals excelling with receiving corps at full strength
CINCINNATI (AP) — Andy Dalton throws three touchdown passes, each to a different receiver. Jeremy Hill gets benched for fumbling twice, and his backup runs for 123 yards.
In their first two games, the Bengals have been a handful to stop.
Dalton added to his impressive season start with another high-percentage showing, and Cincinnati quickly ended Philip Rivers’ streak of perfect passing while pulling away for a 24-19 victory over the San Diego Chargers on Sunday.
With their receiving group back to full strength this season, the Bengals (2-0) have been tough to hold down.
"It’s our offense," said Dalton, who has yet to throw an interception or get sacked. "There’s different things we can do. We have a good mix of everything."
Dalton’s 9-yard throw to Tyler Eifert put the Bengals in control of a mistake-filled game midway through the fourth quarter.
San Diego (1-1) set up the first touchdown with a fumble and never led.
Giovani Bernard took over at running back after Jeremy Hill lost two fumbles. Bernard finished with 123 yards, including a 26-yard run on the drive that ended with Eifert’s touchdown.
"He ran past guys," said Hill, who had 39 yards on 10 carries. "He ran through guys. He had a strong game."
Rivers brought a streak of 20 straight completions into the game, four shy of Donovan McNabb’s NFL record. He completed his first two throws, and then was high with a third-down pass to Stevie Johnson.
Rivers’ streak set a Chargers record and tied for third-longest in NFL history.
He threw a 10-yard touchdown pass early in the second half, the 255th of his career that moved him ahead of Dan Fouts for the club record. Fouts was at Paul Brown Stadium as a television analyst.
"It’s humbling to think about," said Rivers, who was 21 of 27 for 241 yards. "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."
Rivers added a 40-yard touchdown to Malcom Floyd with 4:20 left, cutting it to 24-19. His final throw was intercepted by Vinny Rey at midfield with 53 seconds left to clinch it.
San Diego returned to the site of its only playoff victory of the past six years — a first-round win during the 2013 season. Bernard had a fumble in that one, and Dalton had three second-half turnovers.
The tandem made the big plays this time.
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.
Both teams missed a field goal and fumbled twice.
Keenan Allen fumbled a punt on the Bengals’ opening series. Two plays later, Dalton threw 16 yards to A.J. Green for a touchdown. Dalton also had a 45-yard TD to Marvin Jones.
Notes: Peyton Manning completed 23 straight passes for the NFL’s second-longest streak. Joe Montana, Mark Brunell, David Carr and Matt Ryan had also streaks of 22 completions along with Rivers. … Rivers’ 2 TD passes moved him ahead of Sonny Jurgensen into 14th on the all-time list with 256. … 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.