Bengals shovel quitting speculation by digging out of a 17-point hole

Club rides roller coaster in bid for its second win

November 22, 1999|By Mark Schmetzer | Mark Schmetzer,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

CINCINNATI -- The Cincinnati Bengals had just finished giving up 31 consecutive points to see a 14-point lead become a 17-point deficit with less than 20 minutes to play against the NFL's top-rated defense.

Many Bengals fans were unwilling to hang around for what had become the seemingly inevitable outcome. They left Cinergy Field and missed what most believed to be the impossible.

Cincinnati sandwiched two long scoring drives around a Craig Yeast 86-yard punt return for a touchdown to fe's pass to tight end Tony McGee at the back of the end zone was ruled incomplete when McGee failed to handle it cleanly and free safety Rod Woodson popped him just to make sure. The Bengals had to settle for a field goal to tie it at 31.

"I keep telling you guys there's no quit in this team, but you won't believe me," Cincinnati coach Bruce Coslet said.

The Bengals faced a 31-14 deficit when they took over on their 40-yard line with 4: 38 left in the third quarter. Corey Dillon's 31-yard burst by an apparent clipping penalty on Tremain Mack. The officials waved off the flag.

The Bengals still were down by three points when they regained possession on their 20-yard line with 5: 28 left. They put together a 14-play, 78-yard drive that ended with Doug Pelfrey's 19-yard, game-tying field goal with 1: 50 left. Cincinnati converted a fourth-and-three along the way with a 15-yard pass to Dillon, who also broke free for 4 yards on a third-and-three.

"When we scored [late], that shows how strong an offense we can have," said Blake, who was 20-for-39 for 246 yards. "We played hard against the No. 1 defense in the league. They were letting us go deep, which we did, but once we got ahead, we wanted to run and take some time off the clock.

"I knew we could do it," added Blake, who was hoarse after the game and said he had the same problem during the game, forcing the Bengals to go with silent counts. "Before, we never got the opportunities. Today, the defense got us the ball back."

Said Woodson, who recorded his 50th career interception and eighth against the Bengals: "That's the first time we were tested with the deep ball. We got complacent as a team. Any time you get complacent, something's going to happen for the worst. They stormed back."

The Bengals fell victim to what's become a familiar foe -- an inability to convert short-yardage situations. For the third week in a row, they failed to score a touchdown after reaching first-and-goal at the 1-yard line. McGee's inability to hang onto Blake's third-down pass forced Cincinnati to settle for Pelfrey's field goal.

"It's tough to score anytime you're on the goal line," Blake said. "You don't just walk in, especially when you're playing the No. 1 defense in the NFL."

"Sometimes, things work," Coslet said. "Sometimes, they don't. Occasionally, we do something right -- but we still fell short."

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