Bengals deal spiraling Chargers fourth straight loss
San Diego, CA (Sports Network) - Andy Dalton shook off two interceptions by capping a late scoring drive with a go-ahead touchdown run in the fourth quarter, as the Cincinnati Bengals escaped Qualcomm Stadium with a 20-13 win over the struggling San Diego Chargers.
For the fourth time this season, the Chargers blew a fourth-quarter lead, as Dalton culminated a 14-play, 55-yard drive that ended with his 6-yard plunge over the goal line for a 17-13 lead.
Philip Rivers fumbled deep in his own territory on the ensuing possession and threw an interception in the end zone in the final minute to seal the Chargers' (4-8) fourth consecutive loss.
Cincinnati (7-5) stayed in the AFC playoff hunt by running its winning streak to four games. Dalton finished with 211 yards and a touchdown on 25-of-39 attempts, while BenJarvus Green-Ellis reached the century mark on the ground for the third straight week, gaining 118 yards on 25 carries.
"To come here and get a win on the road is huge," Dalton said. "It's what we had to do."
Rivers started strong but completed just 26-of-48 passes for 280 yards. Demorrio Williams scored San Diego's lone touchdown on an interception return.
The Bengals turned it over twice in the third quarter, but were rewarded with good field position early in the fourth after forcing the Chargers to punt at their own 15-yard line.
Three third-down conversions during the 7 1/2-minute march moved the ball into scoring position, and on 2nd-and-goal from the six, Dalton faked a pass to the right, tucked the ball and dove over the goal line for a 17-13 lead with 4:11 remaining.
Two plays into the next drive, Carlos Dunlap hit Rivers on the elbow just as he was about to throw, causing a fumble that Dunlap recovered at the San Diego 13.
The Chargers kept it a one-possession game by holding the Bengals to three points on Mike Nugent's 24-yard field goal. Rivers then passed San Diego down into the red zone, but threw three straight incompletions from the 17-yard line to bring up fourth down. After calling timeout with 55 seconds to go, Rivers threw a pass that was well short of Malcom Floyd, and Reggie Nelson came down with the lob in the end zone for a game-sealing interception.
"It's kind of the way it's going right now," a dejected Rivers said. "We had our opportunities offensively. Any time you go into a game and don't score a touchdown it's tough to win."
A defensive holding penalty on fourth down kept Cincinnati's opening drive alive, and the 16-play, 91-yard journey ended with Jermaine Gresham hauling in Dalton's 19-yard touchdown pass 7 1/2 minutes in.
Rivers connected on all eight of his attempts on San Diego's first touch, and after Ronnie Brown was tackled two yards short of a first down, Nick Novak put the Chargers on the board via a 20-yard field goal on the first play of the second quarter.
Dalton's first pass of the next series was thrown into double coverage and picked off by Williams, who took it 31 yards the other way for his second touchdown this season.
The Bengals went 82 yards on their next possession -- half coming on a Green- Ellis' run -- but settled for Nugent's 19-yard field goal after getting stopped just shy of the goal line.
The same scenario happened to the Chargers just before halftime. With time for only one play from the Cincinnati 1-yard line, Novak was brought on for a 19- yard kick of his own for a 13-10 lead at the break.
Dalton was intercepted in Chargers territory early in the third quarter, and Gresham lost a fumble at the San Diego 39-yard line on the next Bengals possession. The Chargers failed to convert the turnovers into points, as Novak hit the right post on a 54-yard field goal try following the second giveaway.
Cincinnati's A.J. Green was held without a touchdown for the second straight week after catching one in nine straight games. The wideout had nine catches for 85 yards in the win... Williams also returned a pick for a TD against the Chiefs in Week 9 ... Dunlap recorded two sacks ... San Diego fell to 18-4 in December under head coach Norv Turner ... The Chargers had won five of their past six home games against the Bengals ... Danario Alexander led the Chargers with 102 yards on six catches ... Ryan Mathews was held to 26 yards on nine carries in the setback ... The Bengals host the Cowboys next Sunday, while the Chargers travel east to play the Steelers.
12/02 21:52:08 ET