Kitna Has a Passing Interest

Times Staff Writer

With four touchdown passes by quarterback Jon Kitna, the resurgent Cincinnati Bengals led from the opening drive Sunday for a 34-27 victory over the San Diego Chargers in front of an occasionally surly crowd of 52,069 at Qualcomm Stadium.

The Bengals, who have not reached the playoffs since 1990, are 6-5 and tied for first place in the AFC North with the Baltimore Ravens. The Chargers fell to 2-9.

"We keep getting better," said Bengal first-year Coach Marvin Lewis.

"Frustration is not a good enough word," Charger Coach Marty Schottenheimer said.

Kitna completed 24 of 38 passes for 243 yards. Corey Dillon and Rudi Johnson rushed for 108 and 65 yards, respectively.

"Double the pleasure, man, that's our system," said Johnson of the Bengals' two-back offense. "We've just got to keep it up."

The Bengals led at halftime, 28-13, and 31-13 after three quarters before Charger quarterback Doug Flutie hit David Boston for a 26-yard touchdown pass, and LaDainian Tomlinson ran for a six-yard touchdown with just over three minutes remaining.

After finishing 2-14 last season and losing their first three games this season, the Bengals have won six of eight.

"It feels good," linebacker Adrian Ross said. "We're just out there smacking people around."

Three of Kitna's touchdown passes were to Chad Johnson (five, four and 12 yards) and one to Kelly Washington (four yards). Shayne Graham kicked field goals of 37 and 47 yards.

Flutie, starting for the third game since replacing Drew Brees, completed 15 of 33 passes for 210 yards and two touchdowns to Boston. Tomlinson had 95 yards in 16 carries. Steve Christie made field goals of 48 and 26 yards.

Police had to restrain a small group of angry fans from hurling objects at Charger players at game's end.

"You have to give them what they want," Charger defense end Marcellus Wiley said. "We're still entertainment."

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