Sunday, January 5, 2014
Keys to victory: Chargers 27, Bengals 10
By ESPN Stats & Information
What were the keys to victory for the San Diego Chargers in their 27-10 win over the Cincinnati Bengals, their first playoff win since the 2008 wild-card game against the Indianapolis Colts?
Dalton had a rough day
Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton threw two interceptions, lost a fumble and was sacked three times.
Dalton is now 0-3 with one touchdown and six interceptions in three career playoff starts.
Dalton was 2-for-his-first-9 with an interception when the Chargers sent at least five pass-rushers at him, (he finished 4-for-11).
The Chargers also thwarted Dalton’s attempts to find his favorite target, A.J. Green. He completed 3 of 9 attempts to Green for only 34 yards. That was his worst completion percentage targeting Green this season.
Dalton completed more passes to the Chargers' defense (two) than Green (one) in the second half.
The Bengals finished with four turnovers, matching their most ever in a playoff game. That was also the most by a Chargers opponent all season. The Chargers' defense had only 17 takeaways during the regular season, third-fewest in the NFL.
Key drive: Chargers' go-ahead score in third quarter
Philip Rivers was 5-for-6 in the first half, matching the fewest attempts in the first half of any game in his career. But he came out throwing in the third quarter.
Rivers was 6-for-6 for 68 yards with a touchdown pass on the Chargers' first possession of the third quarter. Antonio Gates, Keenan Allen and Eddie Royal all had their first receptions of the game on that drive.
That was the Chargers' second touchdown drive of the game, and both took at least 10 plays. The Chargers had an NFL-high 39 drives of 10 or more plays in the regular season.
Rivers, who led the NFL in completion percentage during the regular season, finished 12-for-16. This was the first time in eight playoff games that Rivers did not throw an interception.
Chargers run the ball
San Diego gained a season-high 196 yards on the ground, which was also the most by any team in a game against the Bengals this season. The Chargers rushed on 68 percent of their plays, their highest rush percentage since Week 15 of the 2007 season (69 percent against the Lions).
The Chargers gained 50 rush yards after contact Sunday. They were held to a season-low 22 rush yards after contact in Week 13 against the Bengals.
Ronnie Brown's 58-yard touchdown run put the game away. It is tied for the second-longest touchdown run in Chargers playoff history. Keith Lincoln had a 67-yard touchdown run and Paul Lowe had a 58-yard touchdown run in a 51-10 win over the Boston Patriots in the 1963 AFL Championship.
The Chargers will face a Broncos team they've already beaten once this season. They are 2-0 in playoff games in which Peyton Manning has been the opposing quarterback.