CINCINNATI — The Houston Oilers are so hungry for a victory, they started to celebrate before they put away the Cincinnati Bengals.
James Brooks bowled over two tacklers on a 21-yard touchdown run with 43 seconds left Sunday to give the Bengals a 31-28 victory over the Oilers.
With Cleveland being upset by Green Bay, the victory gave Cincinnati (5-2) sole possession of the AFC Central Division lead.
Houston (1-6) took the lead 43 seconds before Brooks' run when linebacker Robert Lyles picked up a fumble and ran 93 yards for a touchdown.
"That was a blow to everybody," Brooks said. "But you look at the scoreboard and there's 1:26 to play, and we can go right back and score. All day long they hadn't stopped us, we'd stopped ourselves."
Cincinnati was leading, 24-21, and running out the clock on the Oiler five-yard line when Houston used its last timeout.
On the next play, Larry Kinnebrew ran into the middle of the Oiler line and fumbled. The ball went to Lyles, who was lying on the ground. He got up and ran the length of the field to give the Oilers their first lead with 1:26 left.
But the Bengals covered 70 yards in 5 plays, including a 24-yard pass to Brooks to put the ball on the 21. He went the rest of the way on a trap play for his second touchdown of the game.
"The hole was there. All I did was run the ball," Brooks said.
Brooks had 133 yards in 18 carries, and 62 yards in 6 catches.
The Oilers, who suffered their sixth consecutive loss, extended a streak of futility against Cincinnati. The Oilers have lost their last six games at Riverfront Stadium and have dropped 10 of their last 11 games to the Bengals.
"We might have celebrated a little too early," Oiler quarterback Warren Moon said. "You never know it's over until it's over."