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Cincy moves over .500 with win

11/24/2003

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- It was a clean handoff, a seamless transition.

Question on the Bengals: Would Dillon be better off staying in Cincy?
If he's willing to accept coach Marvin Lewis' plan, then yes he will be able to stay in Cincinnati. He should be able to see the handwriting on the wall and realize he has a chance to be a part of a winning organization with the Bengals. If he is unable to show the loyalty this team needs, then Lewis will get rid of him.

Question on the Chargers: Is it time for Schottenheimer to put Brees back in?
Yes, Flutie was a good change of pace against the Vikings and his presence resulted in a victory. But now the Chargers have returned to their former non-winning ways and it's time to return to Brees. The Chargers may have to worry about Brees' confidence after being sat down. But the only way to give him his confidence back is to play him.

Eric Allen played cornerback for 14 NFL seasons with the Eagles, Saints and Raiders.

Taking another big step to shed their image as laughable losers,
the Cincinnati Bengals manhandled the sad-sack San Diego Chargers
34-27 on Sunday to continue their remarkable turnaround under
first-year coach Marvin Lewis.

Welcome back, Bengals. Say goodbye to the Bungles.

And just like that, the Chargers' worst fears were realized.
They inherited the role of the NFL's biggest laughingstocks.

"Whatever the Cincinnati Bengals of the NFL means, now people
far and near will relate that failure to the San Diego Chargers,
until we do something about it," defensive end Marcellus Wiley
said. "They're doing something about it."

Are they ever. Jon Kitna matched his career high with four
touchdown passes, three to Chad Johnson, and a healthy Corey Dillon
ran for 108 yards on 18 carries to help the Bengals gain a
season-high 454 yards and win for the fifth time in six games.

It was Johnson who guaranteed Cincinnati's 24-19 win over
previously undefeated Kansas City a week earlier, a victory that
proved the Bengals were for real.

"The Cincinnati Bengals of the NFL of old are gone," said
Johnson, who caught 10 passes for 107 yards. "Those days are over
and we will continue to win and we will continue to have success
under Marvin Lewis."

The Bengals (6-5) are tied for the AFC North lead with
Baltimore. They're in contention this late in the season for the
first time since 1990, when quarterback Boomer Esiason led them to
their last winning record and playoff appearance.

What's more, they no longer need to dread going on the road. The
Bengals came in as three-point favorites even though they'd been
12-48 on the road since the start of the 1996 season.

The Chargers (2-9) are in contention to own the top pick in the
draft for the second time in four years. They've lost 16 of their
last 20 games under coach Marty Schottenheimer. And if Cincinnati
ends its 12-year playoff drought, the Chargers' eight-year absence
will be the NFL's longest active streak.

"I don't think `frustration' is a good enough word,"
Schottenheimer said.

In the third quarter, two fans carried a banner around the main
stadium walkway that read: "Marty Must Go, Fire Schottenheimer."
Some fans booed when security guards grabbed the banner.

Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson passed the 1,000-yard
mark for the third straight season and scored once. Doug Flutie
threw two touchdown passes to David Boston.

Kitna completed 24 of 38 passes for 243 yards and picked on
Chargers cornerbacks Quentin Jammer and Sammy Davis all day.
Johnson beat Jammer both times in catching touchdown passes of 5
and 4 yards on the Bengals' first two drives for a 14-0 lead.

"I think we can take advantage of any secondary right now,"
Kitna said. "The way that we're playing, right now, running the
football, we're not going to change our game plan. We've
established our identity in the league now and teams have to defend
us now."

The Chargers committed penalties on the game's first three plays
from scrimmage and had four overall for 34 yards in the first
drive.

"It makes you shake your head," Flutie said.

After the Chargers pulled to 14-13, Johnson beat Davis on a
12-yard TD catch for a 21-13 lead late in the first half. The
Bengals forced the Chargers to punt, then moved 60 yards in just 43
seconds for Kitna's fourth TD pass, a 4-yarder to rookie Kelley
Johnson to lead 28-13 at halftime.

The Bengals had 22 first downs and 308 yards in the first half
alone. That's more yardage than the Chargers had total in four of
their last five games.

Cincinnati's only scoring in the second half came on Shayne
Graham's field goals of 37 and 47 yards.

Tomlinson had 95 yards on 16 carries. He passed the 1,000-yard
milestone on a 38-yard run late in the first quarter. He had more
yards on that play than he did a week earlier in gaining a
career-low 29 yards in a 37-8 loss at Denver.

Flutie was 15-of-33 for 210 yards. Boston had nine catches for
139 yards, including TDs of 37 and 26 yards.

San Diego's Steve Christie kicked field goals of 48 and 26
yards.

Game notes
The Bengals ran 85 plays to San Diego's 55 and dominated
time of possession 38:18 to 21:42. ... The Bengals had a
season-high 33 first downs, just two off the club record. They also
converted 13 of 20 third downs. ... In the last three games, the
Chargers have allowed an average of 33 points and 454 yards. ...
Wiley, the Chargers' $40 million defensive end, got just his second
sack of the season and forced Kitna to fumble on the play.