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Bengals 20, Chargers 13

The SportsXchange

SAN DIEGO -- The Cincinnati Bengals remained in the playoff hunt while all but ending the postseason hopes of the San Diego Chargers.

The Bengals dumped the Chargers 20-13 Sunday at Qualcomm Stadium, sending San Diego to its fourth consecutive loss and its seventh in the past eight games.

Quarterback Andy Dalton's 6-yard scramble for a touchdown with 4:11 remaining was the difference, giving Cincinnati its fourth win in a row and moving the Bengals (7-5) within two games of the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC North.

The Bengals added a 24-yard field goal by Mike Nugent with 2:47 left after defensive end Carlos Dunlap forced a fumble by San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers and recovered it at the Chargers' 13 with 3:54 remaining.

The Chargers had a chance to tie the score in the final minute, but on fourth-and-10 from the Cincinnati 17, safety Reggie Nelson intercepted a Rivers pass in the end zone.

Denver's win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers clinched the AFC West title for the Broncos, giving them a five-game cushion on San Diego (4-8) with five games remaining. San Diego, which lost twice to Denver this season, sit three games out of the final AFC wild-card position.

The Chargers are in danger of missing the postseason for the third consecutive season, which might spell the end for coach Norv Turner. The job status of general manager A.J. Smith also could be in jeopardy.

Cincinnati (7-5) scored on its opening drive as Dalton connected with tight end Jermaine Gresham on a 19-yard scoring pass for a 7-0 lead with 7:39 left in the first quarter. The 91-yard, 16-play drive consumed 7:21.

The Chargers cut the deficit to 7-3 on a 20-yard field goal by Nick Novak with 14:57 remaining in the second quarter.

San Diego grabbed the lead less than a minute later when linebacker Demorrio Williams picked off a Dalton pass and returned it 31 yards for a touchdown, giving the Chargers a 10-7 advantage. It was the second time this season Williams intercepted a pass and cashed it in for a score. He also had one in the Chargers' 31-13 win over Kansas City on Nov. 1.

The Bengals tied the score on a 19-yard field goal by Mike Nugent with 9:38 remaining in the second quarter.

Novak booted a 19-yard field goal for a 13-10 San Diego lead at the end of the half.

NOTES: The Chargers still hold a 19-13 record in the series against the Bengals. ... Cincinnati hadn't won in San Diego since 2003, when it claimed a 34-27 victory. ... In the teams' previous meeting, in 2010, the Bengals took a 34-20 decision. ... Chargers tight end Antonio Gates remains one touchdown catch shy of Lance Alworth's club record of 81. Gates had six catches for 49 yards but no touchdowns Sunday. ... The Bengals' inactive players were wide receivers Mohamed Sanu and Armon Binns; cornerback Jason Allen; safety George Iloka; defensive tackles Devon Still and Brandon Thompson; and tight end Richard Quinn. ... The Chargers' inactive players were wide receivers Eddie Royal and Micheal Spurlock; safety Darrell Stuckey; linebackers Jarret Johnson and Donald Butler; tight end Dante Rosario and defensive tackle Aubrayo Franklin.

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