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12/01/2013 9:20 PM EST
Dalton, Green lead Bengals to 17-10 win vs Bolts
CINCINNATI 17, SAN DIEGO 10

By BERNIE WILSON
AP Sports Writer

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- With a blue-collar, workmanlike approach, the
Cincinnati Bengals knocked the San Diego Chargers back to
reality while protecting their two-game lead in the AFC North.

The Bengals ran for 164 yards. They held Philip Rivers to just
252 yards passing. They forced three turnovers and preyed on a
big breakdown in coverage.

"Down and dirty," cornerback Adam Jones said after the Bengals
beat the Chargers 17-10 on Sunday, holding San Diego's
high-powered offense to a season-low in points and wearing down
its defense.

Andy Dalton threw a go-ahead, 21-yard touchdown pass to
wide-open A.J. Green late in the third quarter that allowed the
Bengals (8-4), who were coming off their bye, to keep a two-game
lead over Baltimore.

"That's the main thing. We're not playing just to make the
playoffs," 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."

San Diego (5-7) lost the momentum it gained with a thrilling
41-38 comeback win at Kansas City a week earlier. The Chargers'
slim playoff hopes dwindled after their fourth loss in five
games.

"You score 10 points, you are going to lose most of the time,"
said Rivers, who completed 23 of 37 passes for 252 yards.
"That's a good defense. We just weren't consistent enough."

With the score tied at 7, the Bengals got the ball after Dre
Kirkpatrick ripped the ball away from tight end Antonio Gates
after a reception at the Cincinnati 25, the Chargers' third
turnover.

Ten plays later, Green split the defense for an easy touchdown,
with safety Eric Weddle and cornerback Marcus Gilchrist only
able to watch.

"Obviously they jacked the coverage up a little bit and missed
assignments in the middle and it worked out well for us," said
Dalton, who added that the Bengals' power running game helped
set up that play.

Dalton joined Peyton Manning as the only quarterbacks to start
their careers with three straight 3,000-yard seasons. Dalton was
14 of 23 for 190 yards, giving him 3,144 for the season.

"It was just a seam right up the middle, man," said Green, who
wasn't slowed by a hip pointer sustained during the Bengals'
first drive. "I guess the two linebackers and the safety went
with Jermaine (Gresham) and I just came wide open."

On the Bengals' next drive, Andrew Hawkins caught a short pass
from Dalton on third-and-2 from the Bengals 18 and raced 50
yards to the San Diego 32, where he was pushed out of bounds.
The Bengals settled for Mike Nugent's 46-yard field goal for a
17-7 lead.

The Bengals appeared to be driving for a score that would have
put away the game, but BenJarvus Green-Ellis fumbled when he was
hit by Gilchrist.

Weddle recovered and returned it 27 yards to the San Diego 43.
The drive stalled and Nick Novak kicked a 48-yard field goal to
pull to 17-10 with 4:43 left.

A personal foul against Johnnie Troutman after the field goal
forced the Chargers to kick off from their 20 and Brandon Tate
returned it 24 yards to the Bengals 34 and Cincinnati ran out
the clock.

Green-Ellis gained 92 yards on 20 carries. Giovani Bernard had
57 yards on 14 carries.

San Diego held the Bengals to 104 yards in the first half and
then gave up 250 in the second half.

Rookie coach Mike McCoy said his defense "fell apart."

Cincinnati's offensive line manhandled the Chargers on the
Bengals' second drive, which ended with BenJarvus Green-Ellis
scoring on a 4-yard run.

The Chargers responded with a long drive capped when second-year
tight end Ladarius Green split linebackers Rey Maualuga and
Vontaze Burfict and was wide open for a 30-yard touchdown
reception to tie the game at 7.

Mostly, though, the Chargers struggled.

"We crossed the 50 I don't know how many times but we didn't
finish drives," Rivers said. "It is just not the turnovers;
those we know. But there are other drives where we just didn't
finish and ended up punting there right around midfield and that
is critical.

"This is a good team," Rivers said. "Let an opportunity pass us
by? Yes. It wasn't like we had it in our grasp and they came in
here and stole it from us. We knew we were going to have to play
well."

Said Burfict: "Just when they'd get to the 40-yard line, we had
to stop them. That's what we're good at. They cross the 50 and
everybody stepped up to make plays."

NOTES: Chargers rookie Keenan Allen had eight catches for 106
yards, the fifth 100-yard game for the third-round draft pick
from Cal. ... Chargers CB Derek Cox was benched in favor of
Richard Marshall. Cox had been benched in three of the four
previous games. ... Bengals LG Clint Boling hurt his right knee
late in the first quarter.

---

Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

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