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Sun., Mar. 08, 2015 1:30 PM PDT
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Chargers - Bengals Pregame Report
After taking the 13-10 in the final second of the first half, the San Diego Chargers started off the second half with the ball, but were unable to move it, going three-and-out.
After a punt return by Adam Jones put the Bengals at their own 40-yard line, Cincinnati drove into Chargers territory. After a dropped interception by outside linebacker Melvin Ingram gave the Bengals new life, strong safety Corey Lynch tip an Andy Dalton pass to himself at the Chargers 12-yard line and returned the interception 20 yards to the 32-yard line.
Unfortunately, the Chargers were unable to get any momentum going on offense, achieving only one first down, and had to punt.
On the ensuing possession, the Bengals found themselves in Chargers territory, but inside linebackers Takeo Spikes and Demorrio Williams knocked the ball lose from tight end Jermaine Gresham, which was recovered by cornerback Quentin Jammer on the Chargers 39-yard line.
After first downs by tight end Antonio Gates and fullback Le’ Ron McClain, the San Diego offense found itself in Cincinnati territory with momentum. Yet, the Chargers were unable to make anything out of it, as Nick Novak missed a 54-yard field goal attempt.
The miss gave the Bengals the ball on their own 44-yard line, but like the Chargers, were unable to get its offense going like in the first half.
As a result, Kevin Huber’s punt pinned the Chargers inside their own 5-yard line, which is were they began the fourth quarter.
After Nick Novak knocked in a 20-yard field goal on the first play of the second quarter to make it 7-3 in favor of the Bengals, quarterback Andy Dalton took the field looking to build off the momentum from the Bengals’ first-quarter touchdown drive.
Instead, Dalton found inside linebacker Demorrio Williams, who returned the interception 31 yards for a touchdown to give the Chargers a 10-7 lead. The pick-six was San Diego’s fifth season, which is the second most in team history and most since the 1961 squad, who had nine. Williams also becomes the Chargers first linebacker to return two interceptions for touchdowns since Woodrow Lowe in 1979.
On the ensuing possession, the Bengals took over on their own 17-yard line and drove 82 yards, highlighted by a BenJarvus Green-Ellis 41-yard run, for a 19-yard field goal by Mike Nugent to tie up the score at 10.
After converting a third-and-11 with an 18-yard catch-and-run by wide receiver Danario Alexander, the Chargers offense stalled, resulting in the first punt of the day with just under six minutes left in the half.
After taking the ball over on their own 11-yard line, the Bengals drove into Chargers territory, largely because of a trick play, but were ultimately forced to punt.
Taking over deep in their own territory, quarterback Philip Rivers found wide receiver Danario Alexander for a gain of 28 yards on third-and-five to put the Chargers near midfield with just under a minute to go in the half. Later in the drive, the Chargers faced a third down and 13 yards to go and connected with wide receiver Malcolm Floyd for a 24-yard gain. After Rivers scrambled to the 9-yard line, he hit running back Ronnie Brown on a screen, but Brown was stopped at the 1-yard line, forcing a 19-yard field goal by Novak in the closing seconds of the first half. Novak connected to give the Chargers a 13-10 halftime lead.
Alexander finished the half with four receptions for 74 yards, while Rivers was 16-of-23 passing for 189 yards.
After winning the toss, the San Diego Chargers deferred to give the Cincinnati Bengals the ball to open the game.
Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea.
With a steady dose of running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis and quarterback Andy Dalton, the Bengals were able to pick up seven first downs on two third-down conversions. Just when the Chargers looked to force a Cincinnati punt, the Bengals decided to roll the dice and go for it on fourth-and-nine and converted thanks to a defensive holding call on cornerback Shareece Wright, which gave the Bengals an automatic first down.
Several plays later, Dalton connected with tight end Jermaine Gresham for a 19-yard touchdown to conclude a 16-play, 91-yard drive and give the Bengals a 7-0 lead.
But San Diego would not back down.
Quarterback Philip Rivers led the Chargers on their own impressive drive, racking up five first downs of his own and connecting with tight end Antonio Gates, wide receiver Malcolm Floyd and running back Ryan Mathews each twice to take the Bolts deep in Cincinnati territory.
San Diego settled for a 20-yard field goal from Nick Novak on the first play of the second quarter to cut the deficit to 7-3.
Rivers was a perfect 8-for-8 on the drive for 77 yards.
The San Diego Chargers (4-7) return to action this afternoon to host the surging Cincinnati Bengals (6-5), winners of their last three games. The Bengals have not only won, but have done so in resounding fashion, beating the New York Giants, Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders by a minimum of three scores.
The Bengals high-powered offense is led by quarterback Andy Dalton, who has completed 237 of 374 plasses (63.4%) for 2,769 yards along with 23 touchdowns to just 11 interceptions. Wide receiver A.J. Green is the team’s most dangerous weapon, ranking first with 10 touchdown catches, seventh with 67 receptions and fifth in yards with 1,022.
Meanwhile, the Bolts defense is banged up and will be without their two leading tacklers on the year in Atari Bigby (who was placed on season-ending IR) and Donald Butler. As a result, rookie safety Brandon Taylor and second-year linebacker Jonas Mouton will be making their professional debuts.
Two other starters will be down on defense including Aubrayo Franklin and Jarret Johnson, who injured his back Thursday at practice. Cam Thomas is expected to start at nose tackle while first round pick Melvin Ingram should get the nod at outside linebacker.