Unlike college football NFL teams don't get style points for wins. That's a good thing because the Chargers and Bengals played one heck of an ugly football game on the soccer pitch in Carson.
The Bolts survived a slugfest with a 26-21 win over a Cincinnati team that has now lost seven of its last eight games.
Their first two drives of the game were things of beauty. The Bolts took the opening kickoff 75 yards, finishing in the end zone when Philip Rivers hit Keenan Allen for a 13-yard TD and a 7-0 lead. Cincinnati kicked a field goal then the Chargers went on the march again, this time a 13-play, 75 yard drive capped by a 5-yard TD run by Austin Ekeler.
After that the Bolts offense dried up. They had 155 yards in the first quarter but moved just 24 yards in the second quarter and the Bengals climbed back into it.
Jeff Driskel found a wide open John Ross for a 6-yard TD that cut the lead to 14-12 but the 2-point try was no good. With 20 seconds left Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn decided to let Rivers try and get something going. It paid off.
A couple of passes got them close enough to try and field goal and rookie Michael Badgley drilled a 59-yarder at the end of the half to make it 17-12 Bolts.
The second half was so bad it might have been a violation of the Geneva Conventions. The teams combined to kick three field goals, two of them by Badgley, until there was 1:50 left to play and Joe Mixon scored on a 1-yard TD run to make it a 23-21 game.
On the 2-point conversion attempt was short-circuited when Darius Philon came through to sack Driskel. Cincy's onside kick attempt was recovered by the Chargers, who moved into field goal range on a Bengals penalty and let Badgley hit another field goal, this time from 45 yards out.
The Chargers improve to 10-3 heading into a massive Thursday Night Football meeting with the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. Kansas City clinched a playoff spot with an overtime win over the Ravens on Sunday and can win the AFC West title if they sweep the season series from the Chargers this week.