By MITCH STACY
AP Sports Writer
Cincinnati Bengals' Ja'Marr Chase (1) is tackled by Los Angeles Chargers' Tevaughn Campbell (20) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Los Angeles Chargers' Chris Rumph II (94) and Christian Covington (95) celebrate a play during the second half of an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) throws while pressured by Los Angeles Chargers' Kyler Fackrell (52) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) is sacked by Los Angeles Chargers' Jerry Tillery (99) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Los Angeles Chargers' Austin Ekeler (30) runs in for a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Los Angeles Chargers' Mike Williams (81) is chased by Cincinnati Bengals' Vonn Bell (24) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Cincinnati Bengals' Tyler Boyd (83) makes a catch against Los Angeles Chargers' Derwin James (33) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Los Angeles Chargers' Jalen Guyton (15) runs out of the tackle of Cincinnati Bengals' Jessie Bates (30) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Cincinnati Bengals' Joe Mixon (28) runs out of the tackle of Los Angeles Chargers' Breiden Fehoko (96) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert is sacked by Cincinnati Bengals' Vonn Bell (24), bottom, and Cameron Sample (96), top, during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)
Cincinnati Bengals' Cameron Sample (96) and Vonn Bell (24) celebrate a sack of Los Angeles Chargers' Justin Herbert during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)
Cincinnati Bengals' Joe Mixon (28) runs in for a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Chargers, Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) runs in for a touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Chargers, Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)
Cincinnati Bengals' Chidobe Awuzie (22) intercepts a pass intended by Los Angeles Chargers' Josh Palmer (5) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
CINCINNATI (AP) Justin Herbert and the Los Angeles Chargers know how to bounce back after a tough stretch.
They've been doing it all season long.
Herbert passed for three touchdowns and Tevaughn Campbell returned a Joe Mixon fumble 61 yards for a score, helping the Chargers hold off Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals for a 41-22 victory on Sunday.
Herbert was 26 of 35 for 317 yards as Los Angeles (7-5) rebounded after losing 28-13 at Denver last weekend. Mike Williams had five receptions for 110 yards, and Keenan Allen caught two of Herbert's TD passes.
The Chargers got off to a 4-1 start this season, and then dropped four of six. So when Cincinnati turned a 24-0 deficit into a tight game, Herbert and company kept their composure - then put the Bengals away.
''There is no flinch,'' Herbert said. ''You know, it's the NFL. Teams are good. They're gonna come back and they're gonna do everything they can to get back in the game. I thought the defense did a great job of coming up with that stop, that turnover and turning it into a touchdown.''
Allen helped key Los Angeles' fast start, scoring twice in the first quarter on a 4-yard reception and a 7-yarder. Herbert's 44-yard TD to Jaylen Guyton made it 24-0 early in the second quarter.
The Bengals (7-5) stormed back from there, trying to rally for their third straight win. Mixon's 7-yard TD run made it 24-22 with 7:10 left in the third. But Mixon was stuffed on the 2-point conversion try and Campbell's fumble return in the fourth helped close it out for Los Angeles.
''Today was a little bit uneven at times, but our guys played extremely hard,'' Los Angeles coach Brandon Staley said. ''We were outstanding against the run, against a really, really good back. I thought we defended in the passing game. I really thought we rushed the quarterback at a high level. It was all hands on deck in the pass rush.''
The Bengals committed four of the game's seven turnovers. Playing with a dislocated little finger on his throwing hand for much of the day, Burrow threw two interceptions and lost a fumble.
After Campbell's TD, Los Angeles forced Cincinnati to punt. Herbert then directed a four-play, 52-yard drive capped by a 1-yard TD for Austin Ekeler.
The Bengals still had time, but Burrow was intercepted in the end zone by Chris Harris Jr. with 8:07 left. Cincinnati got the ball back again, but Burrow threw short to Tee Higgins on fourth-and-5.
''(Cincinnati) did a good job of switching up and talking at halftime,'' Herbert said. ''They get paid to play defense, too, I thought we did a good job of taking what we got.''
Even after defensive end Joey Bosa went out with a head injury, the Chargers' usually terrible run defense bottled up Mixon, who rushed for 54 yards after recording back-to-back 100-yard games.
Tee Higgins had nine receptions for 138 yards, including a 29-yard touchdown for Cincinnati's first score of the game.
''That was a sloppy game all-around,'' Bengals coach Zac Taylor said. ''To get in a hole the way we did and the things that I did were unacceptable. We didn't deserve to win.''
Burrow dislocated his pinky finger when he was sacked and fumbled on the Bengals' first offensive series. He said it popped back into place on its own and didn't affect this passing.
Burrow was 24 for 40 for 300 yards. He was sacked six times.
Trainers tried tape and gloves to stabilize the injury, but nothing worked. He finally just played with nothing protecting it.
''I can't imagine it getting any worse,'' he said. ''If it doesn't get worse, I'll play next week.''
Chargers: Bosa departed for concussion protocol in the first quarter. Staley said Bosa did not have a concussion but was held out the rest of the game anyway. ... DL Justin Jones suffered a knee injury in the third and didn't return.
Bengals: LB Markus Bailey and LB Logan Wilson left in the first half with shoulder injuries. ... CB Chidobe Awuzie left with a right-foot injury in the third quarter and didn't return.
Chargers: Host the New York Giants next Sunday.
Bengals: Host San Francisco next Sunday.
On Thursday, the Chicago Bears hired former Colts Defensive Coordinator Matt Eberflus to be their head coach. Eberflus took a Colts defense that was ranked 26th and 27th in total defense before he arrived and made them a top-10 unit. The Colts never featured tremendous pass rush rates and blitzed at one of the lowest rates in the league, but the Bears defensive scheme only blitzed 2.4% more and both teams ran a variation of a 4-3 base defense, so it's possible there won't be much change in philosophy. However, the biggest question will be who Eberflus hires as offensive coordinator and what that means for Justin Fields. Since Eberflus spent four years coaching under former NFL quarterback Frank Reich, it wouldn't be a stretch to assume that he soaked up some knowledge in that relationship and will use it to make a hire that's in the best interest of his quarterback's development.
After earlier reports that Byron Leftwich was set to be the next head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars, reports surfaced early on Wednesday that the negotiations were held up because Leftwich wanted Jacksonville to get rid of General Manager Trent Baalke to hire Adrian Wilson, who is Vice President of Pro Scouting for the Arizona Cardinals. Not long after that, Adam Schefter reported that the Jaguars interviewed former Denver Broncos head coach Vic Fangio for their head coaching position. While we don't know where this will end up, Fangio has been a far more run-heavy coach in his career than we'd expect Leftwich to be since Leftwich has learned under Bruce Arians. It's possible that if Fangio were to be hired in Jacksonville, we could see a running back committee of Travis Etienne and James Robinson in the same way Denver deployed Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon this year. It would also potentially sap the upside of Trevor Lawrence, Laviska Shenault Jr., and D.J. Chark, so let's hope Jacksonville does the right thing here.
Dallas Cowboys Defensive Coordinator Dan Quinn has told teams that he will remain with the Cowboys next year and not pursue any more head coaching positions. Six teams had requested interviews with Quinn, but he decided to return in pursuit of a Super Bowl. The Dallas defense under Quinn this year finished as the number one fantasy defense thanks to their propensity for turnovers., so Quinn's return should be good news for the Cowboys DST next year as well. Also, fantasy managers in IDP leagues don't have to worry about new schemes for studs like Micah Parsons and Trevon Diggs
Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger announced his retirement Thursday, Jan. 27.
Fantasy Spin: Big Ben will be remembered for this size, athletic ability and big arm. He was different and will surely be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. The Steelers will pivot to Mason Rudolph, for now, but there will be a number of options in free agency. Rudolph will be a QB2 in fantasy if he's the starter.
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (knee) popped up on the injury report with a knee issue. Despite showing up on the latest injury report, the 25-year-old was a full participant in Wednesday's practice. He is expected to be all systems go for the AFC Championship Game against the Kansas City Chiefs. The former No.1 overall pick completed 28-of-37 passes for 348 yards, no touchdowns, and one interception in Saturday's 19-16 Divisional-Round win over the Tennessee Titans. He's been on absolute fire recently, throwing for 1,563 yards, 10 touchdowns, and one pick over his last four games. Burrow is an excellent QB option with a $7,500 price on FanDuel for Sunday's main DFS slate.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins (thumb) popped up on the injury report with a thumb issue. He was a full participant in Wednesday's practice despite showing up on the latest injury report. In last week's Divisional-Round win over the Tennessee Titans, the 23-year-old hauled in seven receptions on nine targets for 96 yards. He is expected to be all systems go for the AFC Championship Game against the Kansas City Chiefs. Higgins caught three passes for 62 yards in the Week 17 win over the Chiefs and is an excellent mid-tier option at his $6,400 price tag on FanDuel for Sunday's main DFS slate.
Kansas City Chiefs running back Darrel Williams (toe) participated fully in Wednesday's practice. Last week, the 26-year-old was limited with a toe injury and was inactive for the Divisional -Round game against the Buffalo Bills. He is expected to be available for Sunday's AFC Championship Game against the Cincinnati Bengals. Williams will split touches out of Kansas City's backfield with Clyde-Edwards Helaire and Jerick McKinnon. Due to the uncertainty of his role, Williams is more of a GPP option in Sunday's main DFS slate.
Green Bay Packers PK Mason Crosby is likely to be released during the offseason as a cap casualty, according to The Green Bay Press-Gazette's Pete Dougherty.
Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers indicated he should have made a decision about his future by late February during an appearance on The Pat McAfee Show, which coincides with when the Packers would potentially utilize the franchise tag on WR Davante Adams, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent.
Fantasy Spin: If Rodgers and Adams return to Green Bay in 2022, or reunite elsewhere, both would be No. 1 options at their respective positions. Rodgers' decision as to whether he'll play in 2022 figures to be the first domino to fall.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (thumb) practiced fully on Wednesday. The 49ers have removed his sprained shoulder from the injury report, but his sprained right thumb remains. The 30-year-old has somehow led the 49ers to the NFC Championship despite throwing for 303 yards, no touchdowns, and two interceptions over both playoff games. He threw for 316 yards, one touchdown, and two picks in the Week 18 win over the Rams. Garoppolo should be all systems go against the Los Angeles Rams and is the only value option at quarterback for Sunday's main DFS slate with a $6,200 price tag on FanDuel.
San Francisco 49ers running back Jeff Wilson Jr. (knee) did not participate in Wednesday's practice. Teammate Elijah Mitchell also missed Wednesday's session with an ongoing knee issue. Wilson suffered a low-ankle sprain during the first quarter of Saturday's Divisional-Round game over the Green Packers and did not return. According to head coach Kyle Shanahan, he could play in the NFC Championship Game against the Los Angeles Rams. The 26-year-old has two more chances to practice in some capacity and will most likely be questionable for Sunday's game. If active, Wilson could have an expanded role if Mitchell (knee) cannot suit up. Stay tuned.
Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Van Jefferson (knee) did not practice on Wednesday due to a knee injury. The 25-year-old did not participate in the Rams walkthrough session and was listed as a non-participant. He's considered day-to-day, and it's unclear if Van Jefferson will miss the NFC Championship Game against the San Francisco 49ers. He caught two passes for 31 yards in the Week 18 loss to the 49ers. Fantasy managers should continue to monitor his status throughout the week. If active, Van Jefferson provides salary relief with his $5,200 price tag and is a solid option against the 49ers in Sunday's main DFS slate. Stay tuned.
San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle isn't listed on the injury report ahead of Sunday's NFC Championship Game against the Los Angeles Rams. He was seen limping at the end of the Divisional-Round win over the Green Bay Packers but is expected to be all systems go for Sunday. The 28-year-old logged a full practice Wednesday and was removed from the injury report. He caught five of seven targets for 10 yards in his previous contest against the Rams. Despite the dud against Los Angeles in Week 18, Kittle provides excellent value at his $5,800 price tag on FanDuel for Sunday's main DFS slate.
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel (knee) isn't listed on Wednesday's injury report ahead of the NFC Championship Game against the Los Angeles Rams. The 26-year-old said he was sore after taking a helmet to the knee in last Saturday's Divisional Round win over the Green Bay Packers. On Wednesday, he logged a full practice and was removed from the injury report. Samuel caught four passes for 95 yards and rushed for 45 yards on eight carries and a score in his previous game against the Rams. Deebo will have a vital role in the NFC Championship Game and is a strong option with his $8,400 price tag on FanDuel for Sunday's DFS slate.
San Francisco 49ers DE Nick Bosa (non-injury), C Alex Mack (non-injury), RB Elijah Mitchell (knee), OT Trent Williams (ankle) and RB Jeff Wilson Jr. (ankle) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Jan. 26. CB Ambry Thomas (knee) was limited during practice, while QB Jimmy Garoppolo (thumb) fully participated in practice.
Atlanta Falcons TE Lee Smith announced his retirement from professional football Tuesday, Jan. 25.
Free-agent WR Josh Gordon was signed to the Kansas City Chiefs practice squad Wednesday, Jan. 26.
Kansas City Chiefs S Tyrann Mathieu (concussion) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Jan. 26. RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire (shoulder), CB Rashad Fenton (back), WR Mecole Hardman (hip), WR Tyreek Hill (heel), LB Anthony Hitchens (back), DT Chris D. Jones (groin), CB L'Jarius Sneed (knee), CB Charvarius Ward (neck), RB Darrel Williams (toe) and OG Andrew Wylie (elbow) fully participated in practice.
Buffalo Bills OG Ike Boettger (Achilles) and CB Tre'Davious White (knee) are on schedule in their recoveries, according to head coach Sean McDermott.