Up next for the surging Los Angeles Chargers is the Cincinnati Bengals, a team going in the opposite direction.
Back in January 2014, the Bengals welcomed the Chargers into the same stadium they’ll play in thus Sunday for a playoff game. It was just the second time the teams had ever played in the postseason.
The 2014 season was a good one for the Bengals. They finished 11-5 and won the AFC North division, allowing them to host a playoff game. They entered the playoffs having won five of six games. One of those wins came over the Chargers, in which they went into Qualcomm Stadium and won 17-10.
The Chargers had a tougher road to the postseason. Following the loss to the Bengals, they sat at 5-7 and their playoff chances were bleak. They then rallied to defeat the New York Giants, Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs in succession to get to 9-7.
In the regular season finale, they defeated the Chiefs in dramatic fashion in overtime to clinch the final playoff spot. But a road trip to Cincinnati looked daunting.
The Bengals would be favored but one thing the Chargers had going for them was the fact that Marvin Lewis can’t win a playoff game.
The story on this day would be the Chargers’ rushing attack. Using a three-headed monster of Danny Woodhead, Ryan Mathews and Ronnie Brown, the Chargers racked up 196 yards on the ground.
‘After the teams traded punts to start the game, the Chargers went on a 12-play, 86-yard drive that culminated in a 5-yard touchdown run by Woodhead. On the drive, the Chargers ran the ball eight times for 42 yards.
The Bengals would answer with a touchdown from Andy Dalton to Jermaine Gresham and then on the last play of the first half, Mike Nugent booted a 46-yard field goal to give the Bengals a 10-7 lead at the break. It wasn’t coming easy, but the Bengals were right where they thought they would be…. in the lead.
The second half belonged to the Bolts.
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After forcing a Bengals’ punt, the Chargers went on another 80-yard scoring drive, this one capped off by a 4-yard touchdown pass from Philip Rivers to Ladarius Green.
The Chargers’ defense then changed the complexion of the game by forcing some turnovers.
On the Bengals’ next possession, Dalton tried to scramble for a first down on 3rd-and-14 but he lost the ball and Jahleel Addae came up with the recovery. That led to a Chargers’ field goal and a 17-10 lead.
On the next possession, Dalton had a pass intercepted by Shareece Wright. Though he returned it all the way down to the Bengals’ 3-yard line, the Bengals’ defense did a good job holding the Chargers to a field goal. But it extended the lead to a two-score game.
Dalton threw the game away on the Bengals’ next possession, throwing another interception, this time to Melvin Ingram. On three consecutive possessions, the Chargers forced turnovers.
They added a nail-in-the-coffin touchdown late in the fourth quarter to put an emphatic stamp on a big win and a frustrating day for Bengals fans. This was the most recent Chargers playoff win.