No one can call these Bengals the worst ever.
Ryan Fitzpatrick threw a pair of touchdown passes to Chad Ocho
Cinco, who celebrated the second one by giving the head coach a
kiss, and Cincinnati stopped a late 2-point conversion try Sunday,
preserving a 21-19 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
At 1-8, the Bengals are no longer on pace to be historically
bad. Now merely dreadful, they were too much for the stunned
Jaguars (3-5), who fell behind 21-3 before making it close.
Montell Owens returned a fumble 18 yards for a fourth-quarter
touchdown, and David Garrard led a late drive that culminated in
Maurice Jones-Drew's 1-yard run with 1:17 to go. Garrard failed to
squeeze a pass into double-covered Jerry Porter on the conversion
The 64,238 fans raised their arms in celebration of an
unexpected win. The Bengals were coming off the most lopsided
back-to-back losses in franchise history. One more would have left
them 0-9 for only the second time in team history.
Now, the futility flashbacks can end.
Fitzpatrick, who studied the laws of economics at Harvard,
helped the law of averages catch up with his winless team. The
scrambling quarterback looked a lot more comfortable in his fourth
straight start for the injured Carson Palmer, going 21-of-31 for
162 yards. Cedric Benson had Cincinnati's first 100-yard rushing
game, finishing at 104.
Fitzpatrick gave the Bengals a dash of hope on the opening
drive, completing seven of eight passes and breaking loose on a
pair of long scrambles. Ocho Cinco made a diving 2-yard catch in
the corner of the end zone, then ran down the sideline with both
arms outstretched in wonder.
It was a wonder: Cincinnati's first touchdown on offense in the
first quarter all season.
After his 10-yard touchdown catch made it 14-0, Ocho Cinco
flipped the ball to the official, went to the sideline and gave
coach Marvin Lewis a peck on the cheek, the second time he's done
that this season.
Bengals receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh sounded a little cheeky
when he insisted a few days earlier that there was no way the
Bengals would lose 'em all this season. They got that first win by
pushing around a team that has played 'em all close this season.
Jacksonville is the only team in the NFL with all of its games
decided by seven points or less.
The Jaguars again had major problems trying to run the ball
behind a patched-up line. Garrard threw his first interception in
five games, breaking a streak of 166 passes without one. That rare,
poor throw set up a touchdown that put the Bengals ahead 21-3.
Frustration boiled over as the Bengals pulled ahead. Jaguars
defensive tackle John Henderson and Bengals offensive tackle Andrew
Whitworth were ejected for trading blows while blocking each other
on a pass play.