The Chargers, after making it to the playoffs this year for the first time since 2009, are moving on.
San Diego went into Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, where the Bengals had a perfect record at home this season, and came out victorious, 27-10. They will now face Denver next Sunday at 1:40 p.m. local time.
It was a game where turnovers mattered, as expected. Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton, who threw 20 interceptions in the regular season, lost the ball three times (once on a fumble and twice on interceptions). Cincinnati running back Giovanni Bernard was stripped of the ball in the second quarter by linebacker Donald Butler.
Big plays happened when big plays mattered.
In a game where it was supposed to snow -- (it didn't, just rained in the fourth quarter) -- the Chargers silenced the critics who didn't give them a chance all week, who said they didn't really deserve to be in the playoffs.
Here's how it went:
The Chargers lost the coin toss and the Bengals deferred, giving San Diego the ball first. Rivers was sacked five plays into the opening drive and the Bengals took the ball, but stalled on their first possession.
On the next drive, the Chargers did what they do best -- they controlled the clock on an 11-play methodical drive that was punctuated by a Danny Woodhead run up the middle for a touchdown.
In the second quarter, the Bengals tied the game, marching 60 yards down the field in 10 plays.
Chargers linebacker Donald Butler made a big play at the end of the second quarter when he stripped Bengals running back Giovanni Bernard near the red zone, forcing a fumble. Cornerback Richard Marshall recovered the fumble and the Chargers received the ball with less than two minutes before halftime.
The Bengals forced a three-and-out on the next drive and, on the following possession, kicker Mike Nugent converted a 46-yard field goal. The Bengals led the Chargers 10-7 going into halftime.
The Chargers didn't pick up a single first down in the second quarter.
But adjustments were made in the locker room.
In the third quarter, Rivers finally connected with a wide receiver for the first time in the game, hitting Keenan Allen for nine yards. The offense found a rhythm and a few plays later, Eddie Royal caught a 33-yard pass. On the next play, Rivers threw a touchdown to Ladarius Green and the Chargers took the lead, 14-10.
After attempting only six passes in the first half, Rivers went 6-for-6 for 68 yards and a touchdown in that third quarter drive.
On the Bengals' next drive, Andy Dalton fumbled the ball on a head-first slide, giving San Diego possession at Cincinnati's 46-yard-line. The Chargers capitalized this time with a 25-yard field goal by Chargers kicker Nick Novak, making it a seven point margin.
Dalton turned the ball over again on the next drive, picked off by cornerback Shareece Wright for the third turnover in five drives. The Bengals held San Diego to a field goal, but the Chargers were up by two scores.
Another interception by Dalton on the next drive (this time, picked off by linebacker Melvin Ingram) made it near impossible for the Bengals to come back, and a touchdown by Chargers running back Ronnie Brown with a little more than two minutes to play sealed the win for San Diego.