They're flat. Defensively and offensively. San Diego's third takeaway gave the Chargers the football at their own 39-yard line. Yet Cincinnati was flat, allowing big gains to slow quarterback and fat running backs, compounded by silly offside penalties. Eventually San Diego drive stalled. With 21 yards needed on third down (thanks to a Geno Atkins and Domata Peko shared sack) and 3:10 remaining in the third quarter, Philip Rivers was forced to throw the football out of bounds. Nick Novak failed to convert a 54-yard field goal.
The missed attempt gave Cincinnati the football at their own 44-yard line with 2:36 remaining in quarter. Limited one-yard gain, seven-yard pass to Hawkins on a hitch and very bad one-yard loss to Green-Ellis forces the Bengals into a three and out. Fortunately Kevin Huber dropped the football at the San Diego four-yard line. A one-yard Ryan Mathews run and five-yard Antonio Gates five-yard reception closed out the third quarter, setting up third and four from the Chargers 10-yard line. Rivers floated the football to Ronnie Brown out of the backfield for a three-yard loss, thanks to Reggie "The Missile" Nelson.
Unfortunately Adam Jones' 15 yard punt return to the Chargers 45-yard line was neutralized following Manny Lawson's illegal block, putting Cincinnati Bengals to their own 45-yard line with 14:12 remaining in the game.