SAN DIEGO – Andy Dalton and the Cincinnati Bengals didn’t flinch.
No, all they had to do was bide their time and wait for San Diego to cough up another fourth-quarter lead.
Dalton scrambled up the middle for a 6-yard touchdown with 4:11 left for the go-ahead score and the Cincinnati Bengals won their fourth straight game, 20-13 over the punchless San Diego Chargers on Sunday.
The Bengals also kept coming after Philip Rivers, forcing two turnovers in the final 3:54.
We kept overcoming adversity and we didn’t flinch, coach Marvin Lewis said. We just went out there and went back to work. We weren’t perfect. But we had to keep playing and make adjustments and keep coming.
The Bengals (7-5) remained tied with Pittsburgh in the race for the AFC’s second wild-card berth. The Steelers and Bengals are two games behind the AFC North-leading Baltimore Ravens, who lost to Pittsburgh.
The Chargers (4-8) lost their fourth straight game and for the seventh time in eight games, and remain mathematically, but not realistically, alive in the wild-card chase.
The Chargers are on the cusp of missing the playoffs for the third straight season, which is all but certain to cost coach Norv Turner his job, and it could get general manager A.J. Smith fired, as well.
Trailing 13-10, the Bengals started the winning drive on their 45 and ate up 7:42.
On second-and-goal, Dalton pump-faked right and then ran up the middle, dived for the end zone and got the ball across for a 17-13 lead.
On the first Chargers’ possession after Dalton’s TD, defensive end Carlos Dunlap sacked Rivers, forced a fumble and recovered at the 13 to set up Mike Nugent’s 24-yard field goal for a 20-13 lead.
Rivers was then intercepted in the end zone by Reggie Nelson on fourth-and-10 from the Bengals 17 with 49 seconds left.
Tonight for the most part, we didn’t turn it over until the last two, Rivers said. We’re fighting like crazy to score. We’re in a rut and all we can do is keep playing.