NFL Playoffs: Bengals Surge Past Chargers into Halftime

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Jan 5, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) throws a pass during first quarter of the AFC wild card playoff football game against the San Diego Chargers at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL playoffs are here, but the Cincinnati Bengals got off to a rare slow start at home in front of an electric Paul Brown Stadium Crowd. After going 8-0 in the regular season and running away from teams early in games, the Bengals found themselves in a 7-0 hole in the second-quarter as the San Diego Chargers were controlling the game on the ground.

After rushing for 91 yards in the first match-up, the Chargers had nearly 70 at the end of the first-quarter, highlighted by a 12-play, 86-yard drive in which the Chargers ran the ball nine times.

But the Bengals would wake-up and dominate the rest of the first-half. With 12:06 left in the second quarter and the Bengals trialing 7-0, Dalton helped lead the Bengals on a 10-play, 80-yard drive that culminated with him throwing his first postseason TD as he was being drilled by a Chargers defender and hit Jermaine Gresham for the score.

Meanwhile, the defense held San Diego to 11 yards after their only scoring-drive, and the Bengals did have one final drive before the half and Mike Nugent kicked a 46-yard field goal to give the Bengals a 10-7 halftime lead.

The Bengals will need to play better in the second-half if they want to advance to the next round of the NFL playoffs. They played well in the second-quarter as they’ve done all year, but in the NFL playoffs, playing well for four quarters is crucial to getting a win, and the Chargers won’t go quietly.