The Cincinnati Bengals weren't at their best; they played poorly throughout much of the game and yet they powered through with a uncharacteristic west coast win.
With the Cincinnati Bengals taking a 20-13 lead following an offense that finally awoke from their slumber and a defense that forced their first turnover of the game, the San Diego Chargers only need a touchdown to tie the game with an expiring clock and two timeouts. Following a 14-yard completion to Ronnie Brown, consecutive incomplete passes and a 17-yard reception by Danario Alexander, the game reaches the Two Minute warning while the Chargers began threatening from the 49-yard line.
This game against the Chargers felt more four-game losing streak than three-game winning streak. Mental mistakes, stupid errors, missed assignments, heads bowed to the ground, touchdowns missed, terrible body language, if this were any other season and any other roster, San Diego shoves a game-tying touchdown down Cincinnati's throat. It wouldn't be the first time San Diego has done that to the Bengals.
Chargers have the football at the Bengals 49-yard line on first down when Philip Rivers dumps the football off to Ronnie Brown, a decent gain that was negated following an Adam Jones defensive holding, giving San Diego an automatic first down at the Bengals 44-yard line and 1:53 remaining. Rivers rolled out right and floated the football to Alexander on a crossing pattern near the right sidelines, picking up another 11 yards to the 33-yard line. On first down, Rivers finds a wide open Malcom Floyd with Terence Newman in soft coverage, picking up 16 yards to the 17-yard line with 1:11 remaining.
For the love of... are we seriously going to do this again?
On first down (again), Rivers takes the shotgun snap and throws the football well out of bounds near the front left pylon. Alright. Because there's a break needed here. Enough of the chunk yardage, but the field reduction allows for more Mike Zimmer ingenuity. Show six rushers, sit eight in coverage. Show no blitzers, bring six. Confuse Rivers.
On second down Rivers floats an overthrown pass near the back left pylon for an incomplete. Because the Chargers are down by seven, they need a touchdown. Four down territory. Can the suddenly weakened heart and frayed nerves take two more?
With 1:01 remaining in the game, Rivers takes the third down snap and throws the football out of bounds under severe pressure, intending to hit Ronnie Brown in the endzone.
One more. Now. Fourth down. Nerves are fluttering. Fingernails long departed, piled around my chair with a beating heart playing bongo drums with my desk. Rivers takes the shotgun snap and launches the football down the left sidelines where Reggie Nelson picks off the football, securing the win for the Cincinnati Bengals.
It's the first win for the Bengals in San Diego since 2003, giving them four straight wins and seven for the season. The Bengals return home for a sold out Paul Brown Stadium hosting the Dallas Cowboys.