Bernard, Dalton, Defense Fuel Win Vs Chargers

The Bengals' Andy Dalton outplayed the Chargers' Philip Rivers, Giovani Bernard outplayed backfield mate Jeremy Hill, and the Cincinnati defense did its job, fueling the Bengals' home-opening win Sunday afternoon.

Talk about your role-reversals. Sunday's NFL game pitting host Cincinnati and visiting San Diego had that, and more.

All in the end was not as it appeared at the game's outset under sunny skies down by the Ohio River.

Nope, not with starting backs losing footballs the way they did on Sunday, and not with a younger more-criticized quarterback outplaying a grizzled veteran.

Cincinnati feature back Jeremy Hill got benched for fumbling twice, and his backup ran for 123 yards.

It was that kind of a day for the Bengals, a 24-19 Sunday winner in the home opener over the Chargers at Paul Brown Stadium.

The Bengals improved to 2-0 and remained on top of the AFC North Division standings. The Chargers, masterful against the Lions during Week 1, fell to 1-1 after getting manhandled by the Bengals, who played stellar defense while shutting down wide receiver Keenan Allen and winning with a second-fiddle back.

The Cincinnati defense played the role of dominator, overcoming two turnovers by the offense, both on Hill fumbles, to lead the Bengals to victory. Giovani Bernard stepped in with those 123 rushing yards.

Quarterback Andy Dalton added to his impressive start with another high-percentage showing, and Cincinnati ended Philip Rivers' streak of perfect passing while pulling away.

Bernard looked great, but with their receiving group back to full strength after an injury-marred 2014, the unbeaten Bengals have been tough to hold down.

"It's our offense," said Dalton, who has yet to throw an interception or get sacked. "There's different things we can do. We have a good mix of everything."

His 9-yard throw to Tyler Eifert put the Bengals in control of a mistake-filled game midway through the fourth quarter. San Diego set up the first touchdown with a fumble and never led.

Bernard took over at running back after Hill kept losing the handle. Bernard had a 26-yard run on the drive that ended with Eifert's touchdown. He had a touchdown run called back due to penalty

"He ran past guys," said Hill, who had 39 yards on 10 carries. "He ran through guys. He had a strong game."

Rivers entered play with a streak of 20 straight completions into the game, four shy of Donovan McNabb's NFL record. He completed his first two, and then was high with a third-down pass to Stevie Johnson. Rivers' streak did set a Chargers record and tied for third-longest in NFL history.

He threw a 10-yard touchdown pass early in the second half, the 255th of his career that moved him ahead of Dan Fouts for the club record. Fouts was at Paul Brown Stadium as a television analyst. "It's humbling to think about," said Rivers, who was 21 of 27 for 241 yards. "It's not as sweet right now because we lost the game. Once I've had a chance to take a deep breath and look back, I'll be thankful."

Rivers added a 40-yard touchdown to Malcom Floyd with 4:20 left, cutting it to 24-19. His final throw was intercepted by Vinny Rey at midfield with 53 seconds left to clinch it.

San Diego returned to the site of its only playoff victory of the past six years -- a first-round win during the 2013 season. Bernard had a fumble in that one, and Dalton had three second-half turnovers. The tandem made the big plays this time. Dalton finished 16 of 26 for 214 yards. In wins over the Raiders and Chargers, he's gone 41 of 60 for 483 yards with five touchdowns, no interceptions and no sacks.

Both teams missed a field goal and fumbled twice. Allen, blanketed all day by Bengals cornerback Adam Jones, fumbled a punt on the Bengals' opening series. Two plays later, Dalton threw 16 yards to A.J. Green for a touchdown. Dalton also had a 45-yard TD to Marvin Jones.

The Bengals benefited from a review late in the first half. Dalton was hit by Manti Te'o as his arm started forward, resulting in a fumble that Jerry Attaochu returned for a touchdown. After a review, it was ruled an incompletion, and the Bengals took a 14-6 lead into halftime.

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