“Whatever you do during the regular season doesn’t matter once you get to the playoffs,” said Dalton, who is 0-3 in the playoffs. “It’s disappointing. All the good stuff we did this year, then to come out and not win this game kind of hurts.”
Coach Marvin Lewis fell to 0-5 in the playoffs during his 11 seasons as head coach, but is expected to stick around and get another chance to try again.
A lot of it falls on Dalton, who has a trilogy of bad playoff games. He fumbled and threw two interceptions in the second half. Dalton finished 29 of 51 for 334 yards with a below-average passer rating of 67.
The Chargers pressured him in the second half and took advantage of his mistakes. And they didn’t turn the ball over in a conservative offense that sometimes grated on Rivers but ultimately worked.
“The way our defense was playing, as long as we didn’t have a disaster and we made plays when they were there, we were going to win this game,” Rivers said.
Combined with the Saints’ victory over the Eagles on Saturday night, the two No. 6 playoff seeds won for the first time since 2010, when the Packers won the Super Bowl.
And the Chargers are thinking: Why not us?
“We’re loose, we’re confident, we’re peaking at the right time,” safety Eric Weddle said. “We are a team to be dealt with. We’re a confident bunch, especially in the second half, in the fourth quarter. We feel we’re ready for those situations. The pressure is not going to get to us.”
This one was a reversal from the last time they met. The Bengals forced three turnovers for their win in San Diego.
The Bengals got the rematch at home, where they had scored 49, 41, 41, 42 and 34 points in their last five regular season games. Their 10 points on Sunday were a season low.