January 5, 2014, at Cincinnati Bengals
This was supposed to be the year for Marvin Lewis and his Cincinnati Bengals to make some noise in the playoffs. Though he had never won a playoff game in his coaching career, many expected that to change on this day.
The Bengals had gone 11-5 and had won the AFC North division for just the third time since the NFL realigned in 2002. The Chargers, at 9-7, had snuck in the playoffs and most expected them to be one-and-done.
The Bengals were 8-0 at home that season and their quarterback, Andy Dalton, was playing at a high level. That didn’t matter to the Chargers as their defense would be the deciding factor in this game.
The Chargers’ offense was not on point in this game and Philip Rivers passed for just 128 yards. But the defense made timely plays and forced the Bengals to punt the ball several times.
The Bengals had more total yardage and more first downs, but the scoreboard is always the number that matters most and the Chargers left Cincinnati with a big upset win.
Linebacker Donald Butler made a key play early in the game, forcing a fumble on Giovani Bernard as he headed toward the end zone. Richard Marshall recovered and gave the Chargers the ball back.
Jahleel Addae had a fumble recovery and both Shareece Wright and Melvin Ingram killed drives for the Bengals with critical interceptions. Though Dalton passed for 334 yards in the game, he was responsible for turning the ball over three times.
The Chargers got 183 yards rushing from their three-headed monster at running back which included Danny Woodhead, Ryan Mathews and Ronnie Brown, but the defense propelled them to their first playoff victory in five years.