Bengals Find Right Combination Just in Time : AFC: Blake-to-Pickens, shut out for most of game, comes through in the end for 17-13 victory over Jacksonville.

From Associated Press

For more than 59 minutes Sunday, the hottest passing combo in the AFC was quiet.

Jeff Blake was on the verge of going without a touchdown pass for the first time in more than a year. Carl Pickens had not caught a ball all day.

Pickens finally caught a pass with 24 seconds remaining and followed it up seven seconds later with a five-yard touchdown pass from Blake, giving the Cincinnati Bengals a 17-13 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

“Carl Pickens was frustrated not getting any catches throughout the course of the ballgame, but in the end it was Blake-to-Pickens for a touchdown and we win the game,” Cincinnati Coach David Shula said. “That’s what counts.”


For Blake, who entered Sunday with an AFC-leading 23 touchdown passes, it was the 19th consecutive game with a touchdown toss. But for most of the day, he couldn’t find Pickens, who led the conference with 68 receptions and 14 touchdowns before Sunday.

“It was tough, man,” Pickens said. “They had two or three guys around us all day, but my job is to keep running patterns, and I knew Jeff would get me the ball sooner or later.”

It turned out to be later, after the Jaguars (3-9) went ahead on a 39-yard field goal by Mike Hollis with 3:19 left.

Jacksonville was in position to preserve the lead with the Bengals (5-7) facing a third-and-15 at their 47. But Travis Davis, who two plays earlier made a great play to break up a long pass, got tangled up with Darnay Scott at the Jaguars’ 19 and was called for interference with 37 seconds remaining.

“It wasn’t a catchable ball,” said Davis, a rookie from Notre Dame. “My shoulder never touched him. From my vantage point, it wasn’t a catchable ball, but the refs said it was.”

Blake saw it differently, of course. “Obviously, the defender hit him way before the ball got there,” he said.

While kicker Doug Pelfrey warmed up on the sideline in anticipation of attempting a tying field goal, Blake went to work on winning in regulation. After an incompletion, Pickens finally caught his first pass, a 14-yard completion.

After another incompletion, Pickens got loose in the back of the end zone to catch only his second pass, the game-winner.

“This is the first time I’ve ever caught the winning touchdown and didn’t get a game ball,” Pickens quipped.

Blake completed 19 of 39 passes for 210 yards, with three first-half interceptions.

Steve Beuerlein, starting for the Jaguars in place of the injured Mark Brunell, completed 18 of 34 passes for 245 yards.