CINCINNATI – LaDainian Tomlinson tied his career high with four touchdowns, and Philip Rivers threw a touchdown pass under pressure that completed the Chargers’ furious rally Sunday for a 49-41 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.

For Rivers, it was the type of comeback that defines a quarterback – and a season. Then again, this one could be a turning point for both teams’ seasons.

San Diego (7-2) scored 42 points in a second-half comeback that was characteristic of their old Air Coryell days. Instead of Dan Fouts, it was first-year starter running the show in his best performance yet.

Bengals receiver Chad Johnson set a club record with 260 yards and a pair of long touchdowns, and Carson Palmer had the first 400-yard passing game of his career. It didn’t matter because Cincinnati (4-5) was helpless to stop the Chargers’ two offensive stars in the second half.

Rivers was 24-of-36 for 337 yards and three touchdowns, leading the Chargers to their best point total in 20 years. He had a lot of help from Tomlinson, who ran for a pair of touchdowns during a pivotal 15-second span of the fourth quarter.

In the end, it came down to one nifty play by Rivers, who rolled left to avoid the rush and threw a 5-yard shovel pass to tight end Brandon Manumaleuna in the end zone just as he was getting leveled by two pass rushers with 2:29 to play.

How good was Rivers? San Diego scored touchdowns on seven of its last eight possessions, not counting a pair of run-out-the-clock moments.

The Bengals had one final chance to tie it with a touchdown and 2-point conversion, but Palmer threw to a covered Glenn Holt on fourth-and-10 from the Chargers’ 15-yard line with 44 seconds to go.

Browns 17, Falcons 13

ATLANTA – For the second week in a row, the Atlanta Falcons lost to one of the NFL’s worst teams.

Michael Vick threw two interceptions and carelessly fumbled the ball away with 2:18 remaining, allowing the Cleveland Browns to escape with a 17-13 victory Sunday over the banged-up Falcons.

Atlanta (5-4) was coming off a 30-14 loss at Detroit, only the second win of the year for the Lions. The Browns (3-6) had dropped three of four before they knocked off the Falcons in front of 70,000 stunned fans at the Georgia Dome.

Vick completed only 16 of 40 passes for 197 yards, but had the Falcons in position to pull off a comeback with a 55-yard pass to Roddy White, who made a tumbling catch at the Cleveland 17.

The Falcons quarterback took off running on the next play, getting inside the Browns 10, but a holding penalty negated the play. Faced with second-and-20, Vick tried to run again on a draw up the middle, but the Browns forced him to the outside.

Vick began stumbling after making his cut and dropped the ball, which was dangling loosely in his left hand. Jereme Perry, who was burned on White’s long catch, swooped in to make the recovery. Vick, whose helmet had been knocked off by a Browns’ player, sat on the field in disbelief while the home crowd booed him lustily.

After playing brilliantly in wins over Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, the mercurial Vick has cost the Falcons dearly with sloppy plays the last two weeks.

He also had two interceptions and a fumble against Detroit, setting up a couple of touchdowns.

This time, Vick’s first interception was followed by a Cleveland touchdown, and his second was picked off just short of the end zone when he underthrew Alge Crumpler on a fourth-down pass. Then came the fumble, which finished off a miserable day.

Vick wasn’t helped by his receivers, who dropped at least four passes – including a probable touchdown that grazed the fingertips of Ashley Lelie in the first half.

Cleveland jumped ahead 14-0 against the Falcons, who were missing three starters on defense and lost end Patrick Kerney to a chest injury in the first half.

The Browns didn’t have cornerback Leigh Bodden, but the Falcons couldn’t take advantage in the passing game. Meanwhile, embattled Cleveland quarterback Charlie Frye had a solid performance, completing 16 of 22 passes for 165 yards with no interceptions.

Cleveland jumped ahead late in the first quarter when Reuben Droughns powered over from the 1 on fourth down. Frye set up the touchdown with a 40-yard pass to Kellen Winslow, who badly burned Allen Rossum, the fill-in for injured cornerback Jason Webster.

After Sean Jones made a diving interception on Vick, the Browns quickly drove for another TD. Frye completed three straight passes, the last of them a 19-yard score to Braylon Edwards, who found himself wide open in the middle of the field when the Falcons had a breakdown in their zone coverage.

Atlanta scored its only TD after being denied what appeared to be a safety against Frye. Rossum followed with a 37-yard punt return that set up Vick’s 12-yard touchdown pass to Michael Jenkins with about a minute remaining in the third quarter.

AP-ES-11-12-06 1653EST


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