Stop us if you’ve heard this one before.
The Chargers had a half time lead against the Bengals on Sunday and carried the lead all the way into the fourth quarter. Their chances of winning seemed pretty good as they continually thwarted the Bengals offense, forcing a pair of turnovers and keeping them from scoring after a second quarter field goal. Then everything went pear-shaped and the Bengals wound up winning the game 20-13 after scoring 10 points in the fourth quarter.
There wasn’t one big moment of implosion or failed fourth down defense this time for San Diego. It was just an overall failure of their offense to do anything in the second half. They went three-and-out four times, missed a long field goal and then saw Philip Rivers turn the ball over twice after the Bengals grabbed the lead. The first was a strip-sack by Carlos Dunlap, one of four Cincinnati sacks on the day, and the second was an interception in the end zone as Rivers tried to rally the team in the closing seconds.
Rivers was 10-of-25 in the second half for 94 yards, 47 of which came on that final last-ditch drive for a touchdown. The running game offered no help at all and the defense finally broke down on a nearly eight-minute drive that ended with Andy Dalton running in the go-ahead touchdown.
It wasn’t a great day for Dalton — 25-of-39 for 211 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions — but BenJarvus Green-Ellis ran the ball very well and the Bengals used three drives of 10 or more plays to gain an edge in possession that they rode to the win. The victory keeps them right next to the Steelers in the race for a Wild Card spot in the AFC and it might come down to the Week 16 meeting between the teams to decide who advances to the postseason.