National Football League
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PLAYOFFS
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          === Chargers score 20 unanswered points to upset Bengals ===
 
 Cincinnati,  OH (SportsNetwork.com)  - The Chargers snuck into the playoffs on
 the  final day of  the regular season with a little help from the Bengals, and
 San Diego unabashedly gave thanks by continuing Cincinnati's postseason misery
 on Sunday.
 
 Philip  Rivers played mistake-free ball and the plucky Chargers took advantage
 of  three second-half  turnovers from  Andy Dalton  to knock  off the  favored
 Bengals, 27-10, in the Wild Card Round of the AFC playoffs.
 
 Dalton  got  sloppy when a  mix of  rain and snow  began falling at Paul Brown
 Stadium,  throwing two interceptions and losing a fumble that the Bengals, who
 have not won a postseason game since 1991, couldn't overcome.
 
 It was the first loss at home by Cincinnati the entire season.
 
 "It's  disappointing. All the good stuff we did this year, to come out and not
 win this game it hurts," said Dalton, who has lost all three of his postseason
 starts. "We didn't do enough to win."
 
 Rivers  threw for  a modest 128 yards  but tossed a go-ahead touchdown pass to
 Ladarius  Green  in the third  quarter that started  a string of 20 unanswered
 points  that  earned San Diego a  trip to Denver  next Sunday to face the top-
 seeded Broncos.
 
 "It  was an outstanding team effort," said first-year Chargers head coach Mike
 McCoy,  who was the Broncos' offensive coordinator the previous three seasons.
 "We knew it was going to be a slugfest from the first snap all the way through
 the game."
 
 The  Chargers had everything  go their way in Week 17, as the Bengals beat the
 Ravens,  the  Jets  beat  the  Dolphins  and they  upended  the  Chiefs  in  a
 controversial overtime finish to steal the AFC's final wild card berth.
 
 They  only had two sustained drives on Sunday, but they proved to be enough to
 keep the surprising playoff run going.
 
 After  failing to even gain a first down in the second quarter, San Diego used
 a  combination  of runs and  passes during a 10-play,  80-yard trek to jump in
 front, 14-10, with 6:46 left in the third.
 
 Green  hauled in  Rivers' 4-yard jump ball  in the corner of the end zone, and
 San  Diego  settled for a  pair field goals  following two Dalton turnovers to
 extend the lead.
 
 Dalton,  trying to dive  for a first down, lost the ball upon contact with the
 ground,  and  since he  wasn't touched, the  play was ruled  a fumble that the
 Chargers turned into a 25-yard field goal by Nick Novak with two minutes to go
 until the final stanza.
 
 Shareece  Wright's 30-yard  interception return  set up  Novak's 23-yard  kick
 early  in  the fourth, and the  Bengals' next two possessions ended in another
 interception and a turnover on downs.
 
 Ronnie Brown put the game away with a late 58-yard TD run, and Cincinnati fans
 were  sent  home from Paul Brown  Stadium disappointed for the first time this
 season, but with a feeling not unfamiliar to them come playoff time.
 
 San  Diego's  balanced 12-play, 86-yard drive  in the opening quarter gave the
 visitors the early lead. Rivers completed all three of his passes for 42 yards
 on  the  seven-minute march, and  Ryan Mathews carried  the load on the ground
 before Danny Woodhead capped it with a five-yard touchdown run.
 
 The  Bengals,  after punting in Chargers  territory their first two times with
 the  ball, started their  third drive at their own 40-yard line, and it didn't
 take  long for  a series of runs  by BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Gio Bernard set
 the stage for Dalton's first career postseason touchdown pass.
 
 Dalton  barely released  the ball before getting blind-sided by Melvin Ingram,
 and Jermaine Gresham pulled down the toss and carried a defender with him into
 the end zone for a 4-yard score with 5:59 remaining in the half.
 
 Cincy  was on  the doorstep again thanks to Marvin Jones' diving 49-yard catch
 just  before  the two-minute warning, but  Bernard was stripped from behind by
 Donald Butler just before the goal line.
 
 The  Bengals  forced a third straight  three-and-out to get the ball back, and
 Mike Nugent's 46-yard field goal sent them into the break with a 10-7 lead.
 
                                   Game Notes
 
 The  Chargers' last  road playoff win came against the Colts in the Divisional
 Round  of  the 2007 playoffs  ... Bengals head coach  Marvin Lewis fell to 0-5
 all-time  in playoff  games ...  Dalton finished  with 334  yards on  29-of-51
 passing  ... Bengals star receiver A.J. Green was limited to three catches for
 34  yards, while Jones  led the way with 130 yards on eight receptions ... The
 Chargers  had 196  rushing  yards to  Cincinnati's 113  ...  The Bengals  last
 postseason win came against the old Houston Oilers in a wild-card game on Jan.
 6, 1991 ... Cincinnati won in San Diego, 20-13, on Dec. 2.
 
 
 01/05 18:01:07 ET