Bolts beat grieving Bengals 27-24Dec 21, 2009 - 2:12 AM
SAN DIEGO(AP) -- By the time the San Diego Chargers could exhale, they had clinched their fourth straight AFC West title as well as pulling out a dramatic win over the grieving Cincinnati Bengals.
Yes, it was a crazy several minutes at Qualcomm late Sunday afternoon.
Nate Kaeding kicked a 52-yard field goal with 3 seconds left and the Chargers rallied for a 27-24 win over the Bengals, who got a tying 34-yard field goal by Shayne Graham 51 seconds earlier.
A few minutes after the Chargers (11-3) secured their ninth straight victory, and with several thousand fans still in the stadium, the Chargers clinched the division when Denver lost to Oakland.
"It's all kind of a blur," said Kaeding, who hadn't yet gotten a division championship cap until team president Dean Spanos walked by in the locker room and gave the kicker his.
Some Chargers watched on TV as the Broncos, who led the Chargers by 3 1/2 games on Oct. 19, lost 20-19 to the Raiders.
"It's an incredible feeling," star outside linebacker Shawne Merriman said.
The Chargers improved to 17-0 in December since 2006.
Kaeding's winning kick came after Philip Rivers moved the Chargers 46 yards in 51 seconds with no timeouts and backup center Dennis Norman snapping after Scott Mruckzkowski sprained an ankle.
"We just did what we had to do to get it done," said Rivers, who threw three touchdown passes, two to Vincent Jackson.
"Philip's the man. I wouldn't want anybody else under center there for us," said Kaeding, who added that it was one of his biggest kicks.
"There was a lot of adrenaline in that kind of situation, coming down to the wire and going for the win," Kaeding said. "Once it came off my foot, I knew it was good, and mayhem ensued from there."
San Diego clinched a playoff spot before halftime because of other results.
Cincinnati (9-5), which failed for the second straight week to clinch the AFC North, was playing three days after the death of receiver Chris Henry. He died Thursday, a day after falling out of the back of a pickup truck during what police described as a domestic dispute with his fiancee in Charlotte, N.C. Henry was on injured reserve and out for the season.
"The main thing we want people to realize is that Chris is a guy who turned his life around and this football team had done the same thing," tackle Andre Whitworth said. "He signifies what we are."
After Chad Ochocinco caught a 49-yard touchdown pass from Carson Palmer to give the Bengals a 10-7 lead early in the second quarter, the receiver got down on both knees and touched his heart with his right hand.
"It was a little empty feeling," Ochocinco said. "It was bigger than football without him. Today I played with an extra set of hands, an extra set of legs and an extra heart."
The Bengals wore decals with Henry's No. 15 on their helmets. Several Bengals fans brought signs remembering Henry, including a simple "RIP 15."
Quarterback Carson Palmer said he's never experienced four days like the Bengals have, calling Henry's death and then having to play a game "almost surreal." He said it won't sink in until the team attends Henry's funeral on Tuesday.
The Bengals appeared to be driving for a go-ahead touchdown, but then were lucky to get in their tying field goal.
On first-and-16 from the San Diego 25, Andre Caldwell caught a pass from Palmer, was hit by Eric Weddle and then linebacker Tim Dobbins used his helmet to knock the ball out of his hands and it sailed back to the 45, where Palmer jumped on it. Palmer got the Bengals into field goal range with two completions.
Trailing 14-13 midway through the third quarter, Palmer missed Ochocinco and the ball went right to cornerback Quentin Jammer. Two plays later, Jackson got behind cornerback Leon Hall to haul in a 34-yard TD pass that put San Diego up 21-13.
Kaeding added a 33-yard field goal for an 11-point lead.
Keith Rivers intercepted Philip Rivers early in the fourth quarter to set up Palmer's 2-yard TD pass to Laveranues Coles and Palmer's conversion run to make it 24-21.
The Chargers led 14-13 at halftime. Rivers threw TD passes of 3 yards to Antonio Gates and 21 yards to Jackson.
Ochocinco had his 49-yard TD catch, and the Bengals twice had to settle for field goals by Graham after drives bottled up inside the Chargers' 10-yard line.
NOTES: Jackson had five catches for 108 yards, giving him his second straight 1,000-yard season. ... Jammer injured a knee and Chargers DE Jacques Cesaire injured an elbow. ... During the week, Ochocinco said he wanted to fight Merriman. After Jammer was hurt in the fourth quarter, Ochocinco held the cornerback's hand, then spoke amicably with Merriman.
- ** CONFIRMED **
SAN DIEGO 27 FINAL
Dec 20 7:38 PM
FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
--- --- --- --- -----
CINCINNATI 3 10 0 11 24
SAN DIEGO 7 7 10 3 27 FINAL
1ST QUARTER: SDG - TD, ANTONIO GATES 3 YD PASS FROM
PHILIP RIVERS (NATE KAEDING
KICK), 4:54. SANDIEGO 7-0
CIN - FG, SHAYNE GRAHAM 26 YD, 10:49.
2ND QUARTER: CIN - TD, CHAD OCHO
Dec 20 6:21 PM
SAN DIEGO 27 0:00 LEFT, 4TH QTR
Dec 20 6:21 PM
NATE KAEDING 52 YD
SAN DIEGO 27 0:08 LEFT, 4TH QTR
Bengals 24, Chargers 27 4th - 0:08Dec 20 6:15 PM
SHAYNE GRAHAM 34 YD
SAN DIEGO 24 0:57 LEFT, 4TH QTR
Bengals 24, Chargers 24 4th - 0:57Dec 20 6:05 PM
SAN DIEGO 24 12:37 LEFT, 4TH QTR
Bengals 21, Chargers 24 4th - 12:37Dec 20 5:39 PM
SAN DIEGO 24 0:00 LEFT, 3RD QTR
Dec 20 5:26 PM
NATE KAEDING 33 YD
SAN DIEGO 24 1:02 LEFT, 3RD QTR
Bengals 13, Chargers 24 3rd - 1:03Dec 20 5:23 PM
SAN DIEGO 21 6:26 LEFT, 3RD QTR
Bengals 13, Chargers 21 3rd - 6:26Dec 20 5:10 PM
SAN DIEGO 14 0:00 LEFT, 2ND QTR
Dec 20 4:23 PM
SHAYNE GRAHAM 25 YD
SAN DIEGO 14 0:07 LEFT, 2ND QTR
Bengals 13, Chargers 14 2nd - 0:10Dec 20 4:20 PM
SAN DIEGO 14 3:12 LEFT, 2ND QTR
Bengals 10, Chargers 14 2nd - 3:12Dec 20 4:07 PM
SAN DIEGO 7 13:00 LEFT, 2ND QTR
Bengals 10, Chargers 7 2nd - 13:00Dec 20 3:46 PM
SAN DIEGO 7 0:00 LEFT, 1ST QTR
Dec 20 3:41 PM
SHAYNE GRAHAM 26 YD
SAN DIEGO 7 4:11 LEFT, 1ST QTR
Bengals 3, Chargers 7 1st - 4:15Dec 20 3:27 PM
SAN DIEGO 7 10:06 LEFT, 1ST QTR
Bengals 0, Chargers 7 1st - 10:06Dec 20 3:14 PM
- Saints add veteran receiver Brown, kicker Barth May 23
- Bengals have 2 draft picks left unsigned May 18
- Steelers sign tight end David Johnson to 1-year deal May 17
- Jaguars sign veteran Linkenbach, release Oberkrom May 17
- Chargers rookie Joey Bosa back in his element May 13
- Veteran departures pave way for duo in Bears rookie camp May 13
- Buffalo Bills sign 5th-round draft pick, Jonathan Williams May 13
- Burfict, Jones take Bengals-Steelers rivalry to soccer May 10
- Bengals sign 3rd-round LB Nick Vigil, leaving 3 picks signed May 10
- Australians Edwards, Hackett take aim at Jets' punting job May 7
- Undrafted, Alabama's Coker takes his shot with Cardinals May 6
- Gathers trades high tops for cleats, takes shot with Cowboys May 6