Leave it to Jay Gruden to invent a word to describe the Bengals 20-13 win in San Diego.
“It was a ‘grindy’ game,” said the Bengals offensive coordinator.
Grind + ugly = grindy.
In this case, it was a winning combination.
For much of Sunday’s game, the Bengals offensive did all it could to keep the Chargers in the game. A “Pick Six” by Andy Dalton…a costly drop by Marvin Jones…a fumble by Jermaine Gresham … not what the doctor ordered against a team that was missing four defensive starters.
“We gave ‘em reason to believe,” said Gruden. “We shot ourselves in the foot a few times.”
But the Bengals defensive did not allow San Diego to capitalize, holding the Chargers to 297 total yards and no offensive touchdowns.
“In the NFL, whenever you’re able to hold a team without a touchdown – especially with guys like Rivers and Gates – that’s pretty impressive,” said Robert Geathers.
“The defense did an excellent job of not giving up big plays and keeping us in the game,” said Gruden.
Especially in the second half when five of the Chargers first six drives lasted for four-or-fewer plays.
“It shows the talent that we have on our defense and the opportunity that we have to make a name for ourselves,” said Carlos Dunlap who had two sacks and forced two fumbles. “We just have to do it week in and week out. Today was another brick and we’re trying to build a fortress.”
“We’re so talented man,” said Adam Jones. “We just have to keep working because the sky is the limit for this team. I just pray to God that Coach Lewis, and Zim, and Jay just keep doing what they’re doing because it has a positive effect on everybody in the room. We have a lot of young guys that love to compete and everybody wants to win. It’s a great group man.”
When 11:53 remaining, the offense was finally able to avoid mistakes on a methodical 14 play, 55 yard touchdown drive that won the game. There was no gain of more than nine yards on the drive and the Bengals successfully converted three times on third down before Andy Dalton scored on a six yard run to give Cincinnati the lead for good.
“He had a couple of things that didn’t go his way, but man, Andy’s a trooper,” said Jones. “He’s one of the guys that you know is going to give his all every week.”
“We didn’t play perfect and made a lot of mistakes, but that’s what good football teams do – they stay in it, they keep working, and they pull it out in the end,” said Andrew Hawkins who had five catches for 47 yards. “I’m proud of all of the guys in here.”
Baby Hawk has every reason to be proud because winning in San Diego is tough. And the way the Bengals pulled it out on Sunday showed toughness.
“We knew it wasn’t going to be easy,” said Gruden. “San Diego was playing for their playoff life and we got their best game.
“That’s one of those games that we needed as a team,” said Carlos Dunlap. “It tested our heart and we showed how bad that we wanted it.”
“To come here and win on the road is huge,” said Andy Dalton. “It wasn’t pretty, but we found a way to win.”
Who needs pretty when you have grindy.
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