An offensive pass-interference penalty by Cincinnati on the potential go-ahead touchdown and the ensuing missed field-goal attempt spoiled the debut of No. 1 draft pick Joe Burrow, and the Los Angeles Chargers held off the host Bengals 16-13 Sunday.
Burrow, who went 23 of 36 passing for 193 yards with an interception in his pro debut, led a torrid final drive that covered 79 yards in less than three minutes. He capped the possession with a 3-yard strike to wide receiver A.J. Green near the pylon, but Green was flagged for pushing off Chargers defensive back Casey Hayward.
Green, playing for the first time since 2018, caught five passes for a team-high 51 yards.
Bengals kicker Randy Bullock, who made his previous 24 field-goal attempts, including two earlier on Sunday, then pulled up with an apparent hamstring injury as he badly missed a 31-yarder that would have forced overtime.
The win marked a reversal of fortunes from a season ago for Los Angeles (1-0), which went 2-9 in games decided by one score.
The Chargers escaped behind an outstanding defensive effort, which included a pair of crucial turnovers in the second half.
Denzel Perryman dislodged the ball from Joe Mixon, ending the Cincinnati running back's streak of 622 consecutive touches without a fumble. Nick Vigil fell on the loose ball in Cincinnati territory, which led to Michael Badgley's third successful field goal of the afternoon and a Chargers' 16-13 lead in the fourth quarter.
Burrow scored on a 23-yard run in the first quarter, sprung free to pay dirt off of a Trey Hopkins block. It was the lone touchdown in a first half that saw the Chargers hold the Bengals to just 88 yards of offense.
Cincinnati (0-1) made its second score on a Bullock field goal in the third quarter, but the kick came as a result of missed touchdown opportunities. Twice, Burrow overthrew receivers who beat deep coverage.
With two promising Bengal drives stalling and turning into field goals, Los Angeles capitalized. A 45-yard Joe Reed kickoff return set up a short field for Tyrod Taylor. The quarterback, who went 16 of 30 for 208 yards, led a drive that capped with rookie running back Joshua Kelley scoring on a 5-yard run to tie it 13-13.
The Bengals again left points on the board in the fourth quarter when, driving into Chargers territory, Melvin Ingram intercepted a rushed shovel pass from Burrow.
--Field Level Media