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Chargers Hold on After Bengals Rally to Improve to 7-5

Chargers hold on to 24-point lead to win in Cincinnati.

The Chargers almost did it again. They had a lead early in the second quarter, but the Cincinnati Bengals almost came back. Almost but they held on to win 41-22 in what was a rollercoaster of a game.

All three phases of the team contributed to the victory against the Bengals.

It has been said numerous times that the offense needs to get receiver Mike Williams going, and that is what they did on the opening drive when quarterback Justin Herbert hit him for a 41-yard completion to set them up in the red zone.

Head coach Brandon Staley's offense faced fourth-and-goal, so he was aggressive and left his offense on the field. Herbert went to his first two reads, then found receiver Keenan Allen open for a four-yard touchdown between three defenders.

The Bengals offense faced second-and eight when Uchenna Nwosu came around and smacked the ball out of quarterback Joe Burrow's hand and recovered the ball. That gave the offense the ball back at Cincinnati's 35-yard line, but the Bolts offense stalled.

Dustin Hopkins hit a 43-yard field goal to take a 9-0 early lead.

Next Bengals drive, Burrow went deep to rookie receiver Ja'Marr Chase on the fifth play of the drive, but he bobbled it, and cornerback Michael Davis intercepted it. Chase had a step or two on Davis.

Chargers came out aggressive on the first play, with Herbert throwing a 47-yard pass to Williams to put them in Bengals territory. Three plays later, Herbert rolled to his right and found Allen wide open in the end zone for his second touchdown reception for a 16-0 lead.

Three punts later, Herbert threw deep for Jalen Guyton for a 44-yard touchdown and to take a commanding 24-0 lead.

"I thought that the way we came out offensively is, you know, our type of recipe getting the ball to Mike in the deep part of the field, getting the ball to JG we were aggressive in the deep part of the field today," Staley explained. "We had a lot of different types of passes."

Here came the Bengals.

Burrow answered back when he hit Tee Higgins in the end zone for a 29-yard touchdown pass to put points on the board.

Next Chargers offensive drive, Herbert threw a pass to running back Austin Ekeler when linebacker Germaine Pratt and cornerback Vernon Hargreaves made him cough it up, and safety Jessie Bates returned it to the 35-yard line before Herbert tackled him.

Burrow made the Chargers pay by running it in for a six-yard touchdown to give them a chance down 24-13.

Cincinnati came out in the second half and scored ten quick points after an opening field goal and cashing in on a second Ekeler fumble with a Joe Mixon seven-yard touchdown run.

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"I'm not worried about the guy," Staley said about his running back. "No one's going to take that harder than him. He's got to know when to say when."

The Bengals were now down by only two points.

"They turned it up a little bit in that third quarter," Staley said. "They've got a good defense over there they really do. But I really felt like Justin controlled the game today. Made a lot of big plays in the passing game, and then we just did enough there in the second half to close it out."

The Chargers offense struggled to get anything going after halftime.

They punted twice. The Bengals started moving the ball up the field until defensive tackle Christian Covington forced Mixon to fumble, and cornerback Tevaughn Campbell ran it back 61-yards for a touchdown.

"When it started to get tight, I think you saw by how our defense played sometimes when it gets tight, your defenses got to win the day when you're on the road, and it's loud," Staley explained. "Your defense can get you the momentum back by shutting down a really, really prolific offense, and that's what happened today."

The Chargers finished the game off when Herbert threw a 33-yard pass to Guyton and took it to the one-yard line. Ekeler ran it in for a touchdown to end the comeback.

This was almost a déjà vu to the Pittsburgh game where they blew a big lead, but they held on just like in that matchup.

"Different than the Pittsburgh game different than some of the other games we had control in the fourth quarter," Staley said. "We got control, and then we put it back away, and that's what I was satisfied with is that we shut them out in the fourth quarter, and it was 17-0."

The Chargers defense had six sacks, two interceptions, and one fumble return for a touchdown.

"The defense did a great job today coming up with some big stops, big turnovers," Herbert said. "That makes our job a lot easier."

On Sunday, Herbert spread the ball around, completing passes to seven different receivers. Williams had five receptions for 110 yards, Guyton had four receptions for 90 yards and one touchdown, while Allen had five catches for 34 yards and two touchdowns.

"The more weapons you have, I feel like the better it is for everybody," Williams said. "It's a lot of people who can make plays in offense, so the more weapons we got, the more but there more of a threat we will be on the offensive side."

The Chargers of old would have blown this lead, but they held on as it has happened numerous times this season. They hold on to a wild card spot and keep their season alive to improve to a 7-5 record.

"There's no flinch," Herbert said.