Bob Thomas kicked a 34-yard field goal with four seconds left today to lift the San Diego Chargers to a 44-41 NFL victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.

Larry Kinnebrew's eight-yard touchdown run, his second of the game, gave Cincinnati a 41-34 lead with 4:39 to play. But Chargers quarterback Dan Fouts found Lionel James open down the middle for his fourth touchdown pass of the game, tying it at 41 with 3:45 left.

San Diego defensive end Chuck Ehin recovered James Brooks' fumble at the Cincinnati 42 with 2:40 left. The Chargers moved to the 16 and called time out with nine seconds left to set up Thomas.

"It was another one of those games where whoever has the ball last, or gets the last break, wins the ballgame," Chargers Coach Don Coryell said.

James also ran 56 yards on a third-quarter draw play to help the Chargers (2-1) overcome a 28-point second-half by the Bengals (0-3).

He totaled 126 yards on 11 carries and caught five passes for 118 yards.

Fouts completed 25 of 43 passes for 344 yards.

Boomer Esiason, a surprise starter, completed 26 of 44 passes for a personal-high 320 yards and three touchdowns. He guided the Bengals to scores on all three third-quarter possessions for a 34-27 lead, the best third quarter in team history.

"As a quarterback, you've got to enjoy this type of game," Esiason said. "But I'd trade every completion, every touchdown for a win. It doesn't matter how good I play."

Coach Sam Wyche wouldn't say if Esiason will continue as starter.