PRO FOOTBALL ’95 : Bengals Expand to 2-0 by Holding Off Jaguars

From Associated Press

Cincinnati Bengal quarterback Jeff Blake might no longer be the league’s best-kept secret.

Blake threw two touchdown passes and Cincinnati’s perennially weak defense had seven sacks to hold off the Jacksonville Jaguars, 24-17, on Sunday.

Cincinnati improved to 2-0 for the first time since 1993. But the celebration was muted by the realization that the Bengals had to go down to the last minute on their home field to beat an expansion team operating behind a backup quarterback.

“There’s no champagne popping in here or nothing like that,” linebacker Steve Tovar said. “Lord knows we made enough mistakes. We’ve got to correct those.”


Both teams bumbled around, often blurring the distinction between established team and new one. The Bengals pulled it out by blitzing on an overwhelming majority of plays to confuse and overpower Jacksonville’s offensive line.

“We haven’t blitzed that much since my rookie year,” said linebacker James Francis, a sixth-year veteran. “We knew they hadn’t played together. They’re a new team and it’s going to take time for them to gel. We wanted to put pressure on them.”

The Bengals did that most of the afternoon, but still found themselves feeling the pressure in the closing minutes.

Mark Brunell, filling in for injured Steve Beuerlein, ran eight yards on a bootleg to cut the Bengal lead to seven points midway through the third quarter. He then converted on two third-down passes to get the Jaguars (0-2) across midfield in the closing minute.

“We knew we could get them stopped,” Francis said. “At the same time, you always have your doubts.”

Cincinnati clinched the game on Dan Wilkinson’s fourth-down sack at the Bengal 41-yard line with 11 seconds to play.


“Without a doubt I thought we had a chance to win,” Brunell said. “In the fourth quarter, they were bringing it [the blitz]. That made it tough. But we had our chances.”

Blake completed 20 of 29 for 247 yards, with most of his throws going to running backs.

He had a three-yard touchdown pass to rookie lineman Melvin Tuten on a tackle-eligible play with 16 seconds left in the first half and a 68-yarder to Carl Pickens that put the Bengals ahead 24-10 with 13:16 left.