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Stout defense leads Bengals past Chargers
San Diego, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - BenJarvus Green-Ellis rushed for 92 yards and a touchdown and the Cincinnati defense forced three turnovers as the Bengals held off the San Diego Chargers, 17-10, at Qualcomm Stadium.
Andy Dalton completed 14-of-23 passes for 190 yards, one touchdown and an interception and A.J. Green caught five passes for 83 yards and a score for the Bengals (8-4), who hold a two-game lead atop the AFC North standings.
"We're not playing just to make the playoffs," Cincinnati cornerback Adam 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."
Philip Rivers threw for 252 yards, one touchdown and an interception on 23- of-37 efficiency for the Chargers (5-7), who have lost four of their last five games.
"You score 10 points, you are going to lose most of the time," said Rivers. "That's a good defense. We just weren't consistent enough."
Green-Ellis found the end zone from four yards out to put the Bengals on the board first. The drive started at the Cincinnati 33 with 4:36 left in the first quarter. Green-Ellis broke off a 13-yard rush to get the Bengals across midfield. Four plays later, Giovanni Bernard busted a 13-yard run off the right tackle down to the Chargers 12, and Green-Ellis punched it in on the next play, just moments into the second stanza.
The Chargers answered back as Rivers connected with Ladarius Green for a 30- yard touchdown to cap an eight-play, 78-yard march. A 16-yard completion to Vincent Brown earlier in the drive put San Diego into Bengals' territory. After Rivers found Keenan Allen for a 19-yard gain on 3rd-and-10, he was able to hit Green streaking down the seam for the score.
San Diego drove down to the Bengals' 30, but on 3rd-and-6 Rivers' pass over the middle was picked off by Dre Kirkpatrick. Antonio Gates and Kirkpatrick went up for the ball, but Kirkpatrick was able to rip it from the tight end as the players fell to the ground.
Ten plays later, the Bengals took a 14-7 lead with 1:42 left in the third as Dalton tossed a 21-yard touchdown to Green. Bernard broke free for a 19-yard gain down to the San Diego 23. After Bernard was stopped for a two-yard gain, Dalton was able to locate Green all alone in the middle of the end zone for an easy score.
After forcing a San Diego punt, the Bengals drove down to the San Diego 28 before settling for a 46-yard Mike Nugent field goal and a 17-7 spread.
San Diego was able to make it a one-possession game as Novak split the uprights from 48 yards out with 4:43 left, but Cincinnati was able to pick up four first downs and Dalton kneeled out the clock.
Green has seven receiving touchdowns this season ... Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict had 13 tackles ... The Chargers honored the 1963 AFL Championship team at halftime ... Allen caught eight passes for 106 yards ... Chargers safety Eric Weddle had an interception, the 17th of his career.
12/02 00:27:57 ET