In a game eerily similar to last week against the Ravens, the Chargers held a lead all the way into the fourth quarter. Yet for the second week in a row, San Diego couldn’t score in the second half and saw another fourth quarter lead evaporate as they fell to the Cincinnati Bengals 20-13.
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The Chargers won the coin toss and deferred, giving the Bengals the ball to start the game. Cincinnati put together a methodical 16-play, 91-yard drive ending with a 19-yard touchdown pass to Jermaine Gresham to give the visitors an early 7-0 lead. The Bolts rebounded with a nice drive, stringing together five first downs before the drive stalled in the red zone. The Chargers settled for a field goal on the first play of the second quarter and the Chargers trailed 7-3.
On the Bengals second play from scrimmage on the ensuing drive, Demorrio Williams stepped in front of a pass intended for A.J. Green and rumbled 31-yards for the touchdown and a 10-7 lead. Back with the ball, a 41-yard run by BenJarvus Green-Ellis, the longest against San Diego this year, set up a Mike Nugent 19-yard field goal and tied the game at 10 apiece. Each team exchanged punts, setting the Chargers up at their own 14-yard line with less than two minutes to go. Philip Rivers led the team down the field in an impressive drive, culminating with a 19-yard Nick Novak field goal as time expired in the first half with the Bolts up 13-10.
San Diego went three-and-out to start the second half. The Bengals were driving in Chargers territory before Corey Lynch came up with a big interception around the 10-yard line. Unfortunately, the Bolts only managed one first down and punted it back to Cincinnati. A highly questionable roughing the passer call against Takeo Spikes negated a turnover for the Chargers, but two plays later Spikes and Williams converged to force a fumble that Quentin Jammer recovered. The Bolts appeared set to put points on the board, but a sack and delay of game penalty pushed a field goal attempt back to 54-yards, and Novak barely missed it wide right. While it looked like the Bengals may gain momentum from it, the defense stepped up to force the first three-and-out of the game. Heading into the last quarter, the Chargers maintained their 13-10 lead.
Backed up at their own two yard line, the Bolts went three and out, punting the ball to Cincy who took over near midfield. However, the Chargers defense stepped up yet again as Corey Liuget and Shaun Phillips combined for a sack to get the ball back for the offense. After another three-and-out, the Bengals took over at their own 45. Behind strong runs by Green-Ellis, Cincinnati drove down to the six-yard line. Andy Dalton ran a QB draw up the middle for a touchdown with 4:11 left in the game to give the Bengals a 17-13 lead. On the Chargers’ second play of their series, Rivers was stripped and the Bengals recovered at the Chargers 13-yard line. The defense limited the damage to a field goal, and the Bolts had 2:47 remaining to tie the game and force overtime. The Chargers got all the way down to the Bengals 17, but Philip Rivers threw an interception in the end zone on fourth down as San Diego lost their fourth straight.
On 2nd-and-goal at the six-yard line, Andy Dalton took the snap out of shotgun position. He remained in the pocket for a second or two before he improvised, weaving his way past the line of scrimmage and diving for the end zone to give the Bengals a 17-13 lead. The score put them ahead with just 4:11 left in the game and the Chargers weren’t able to get on the scoreboard
It Was Over When…
On 4th-and-10 in the final seconds of the game from the Bengals 17, the Chargers needed a conversion to keep their hopes alive. Philip Rivers threw a ball up in the air to the right side looking for Malcom Floyd in the end zone, but it was thrown too far inside and Reggie Nelson picked it off. After a pair of kneel-downs, the game was over and the Bengals escaped with the win.
Play of the Game
Early in the second quarter, Demorrio Williams dropped back into coverage, and reading the eyes of Andy Dalton, jumped in front of A.J. Green to pick off the ball. He wasn’t done though as the veteran linebacker sprinted up the left sideline 31-yards for the touchdown and a 10-7 lead.
Stat of the Game
The Chargers recorded their fifth pick-six of the season, which is the second most in team history and most since the 1961 squad recorded nine. Williams also became the Chargers first linebacker to return two interceptions for touchdowns since Woodrow Lowe in 1979.
“Obviously, we’re not capable of making enough plays to score enough points to win right now. Defensively, I thought our guys were outstanding.” – Head Coach Norv Turner
“We had our opportunities offensively. Anytime you go in a game and don’t score a touchdown, it’s hard to win.” – Quarterback Philip Rivers
“You can’t get frustrated. You’ve just got to just keep playing football. We signed up for 16 games. We’re going to go out there and play for 16 games. The only thing that’s guaranteed is next week and that’s all we can worry about.” – Linebacker Shaun Phillips
“It was just a great call by our coach. It was just a buzz coverage. I was just doing my job. He just threw the ball. I guess he did not see me. Like I said again, it really doesn’t matter if you don’t win the game.” – Linebacker Demorrio Williams
Odds and Ends
Wide receiver Danario Alexander had his second 100-yard game of the season today with a team-high 102 yards on six catches.
The inactives today included Donald Butler, Darrell Stuckey, Jarret Johnson, Aubrayo Franklin, Micheal Spurlock, Eddie Royal and Dante Rosario.
Melvin Ingram started for Johnson, Cam Thomas for Franklin and Demorrio Williams for Butler.
The Chargers reported the following injuries today: Jeromey Clary (knee), Seyi Ajirotutu (hand), Corey Lynch (quad), Mike Harris (ankle) and David Molk (thumb).