SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
--The Chargers and Denver Broncos are original members of the American Football League from its 1960 startup. This will be the first time the two teams have met in the postseason.
"We know them, they know us, personnel-wise," said safety Eric Weddle. "It's going to be a great game and great battle. We held them to 28 and 20 points in both games. You never know. It could be a shootout, or it could be a low-scoring game. That's the great thing about the playoffs."
--Quarterback Philip Rivers threw for 4,478 yards in the regular season, making him the sixth player in NFL history to throw for more than 4,000 yards five times.
Throwing the ball wasn't in the game plan Sunday, however. Rivers had career playoff lows Sunday in terms of completions (12), attempts (16) and yards (128) but finished with his second-highest passer rating (118.8). It was also the first time in eight postseason games he did not throw an interception.
"Playoff games aren't meant to be pretty," Rivers said. "You just find a way to win, and we did that in all three phases today."
Rivers is now 4-4 in the playoffs as a starting quarterback.
--During this current five-game winning streak, San Diego has run the ball an average of 39 times a game for 170 yards. The Chargers ran it 40 times for 196 yards against the Bengals.
"We've done a great job these last few weeks of running the ball," said running back Ronnie Brown. "Ryan (Mathews) has done a great job of running the ball. Danny (Woodhead) gets in and the offensive line does a great job of getting the running game going."
When Cincinnati beat San Diego on Dec. 1 the Bengals held the Chargers to 91 yards on 24 carries.
--The Bengals will have to spend another offseason answering questions about what needs to be done to get over the hump of the playoffs. They've proven they can get there three years in a row now and four of the last five seasons but they've lost in the first round each time.
"We have to outplay the opponent. Point blank," said head coach Marvin Lewis. "There's no special words for it or anything. You just have to go and outplay. You just keep doing it. We've just got to keep climbing the mountain; we're not going to quit climbing."
At the forefront of the losses has been the poor play of quarterback Andy Dalton and the offense. The Bengals have scored just 33 points in their last three playoff defeats with Dalton leading them. He's completed 70 of 123 passes for 718 yards with just one touchdown and six interceptions. Wide receiver A.J. Green, who had more than 1,400 yards receiving this season, has had just 13 catches for 161 yards in the three games.
--Sunday was the sixth time this season the Bengals turned the ball over at least three times in a game this season. They went 2-4 in those games. In the two games they won despite the giveaways because they were able to get takeaways of their own on defense.
They didn't force any turnovers against San Diego.
"It's hard to win the game regardless of how good your defense is playing if the other team gets turnovers and you don't get any," said cornerback Adam Jones. "Rivers played a smart game He didn't force anything. He took what was there, and they were the better team today."
--Linebacker Vontaze Burfict led the NFL in tackles this season but had just seven against the Chargers. He was credited with a half-sack on San Diego's first possession of the game but was relatively silent most of the game.
"They just came out and played very fast, very physical. We matched their intensity, but we didn't play up to our level today," Burfict said. "All of us, as leaders, we need to figure out what's going on and be ready for next year."
"They have talent across the board, but their bell-cow is No. 18 (A.J. Green). If you can stay on top of him, then you have a good shot. He's as good as they come." -- Chargers LB Jarret Johnson.
"To be honest with you, we don't care as an organization what anyone else thinks about us. We've got confidence in our room, within our organization from (team president) Dean Spanos all the way down, and that's the most important thing for the whole organization." -- Chargers head coach Mike McCoy.
"It all comes with playing the position. There's a lot that goes on during a game, and the quarterback is in control of everything. He's the leader of the team and of the offense, and when thing don't go right the quarterback is going to get the blame. I'm willing to take every shot at me. You've got to have thick skin." -- Bengals QB Andy Dalton.
"I don't have any questions about Andy's role in this thing. We just have to keep working it. We've got to make sure we're doing everything to help Andy all the time. He's going to be very disappointed in himself today, obviously. He is the football team and I'm sure he's very disappointed." -- Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis.