Houston Coach Jerry Glanville said his team was ready to explode. Sunday, it was quarterback Warren Moon and wide receiver Drew Hill who finally lit the fuse.
The Oilers burst to a 19-0 first-half lead and held off a second-half rally led by Cincinnati's Boomer Esiason and Ken Anderson for a 32-28 victory over the Bengals, ending an eight-game losing streak.
With the victory, the Oilers improved to 2-8. The Bengals, who dropped to 6-4, fell one-half game behind the first-place Cleveland Browns in the AFC Central Division. The Browns play the Miami Dolphins tonight.
Moon, who has thrown 18 interceptions and been sacked 28 times this season, completed his first 7 passes of the game as the Oilers avenged a 31-28 loss to the Bengals on Oct. 19.
Moon connected on 25 of 44 passes for 310 yards, and Hill caught 10 passes for 185 yards.
Houston scored on its opening possession when Moon threw 3 times to Hill for 48 yards. Moon then hit tight end Jamie Williams on a five-yard touchdown pass.
Tony Zendejas kicked field goals of 42 and 25 yards to give Houston a 13-0 lead with 5:26 left in the half, and the Oilers scored again on rookie Ray Wallace's one-yard run. The extra-point try was unsuccessful.
Cincinnati Coach Sam Wyche started Anderson in the third quarter, but Esiason returned when Anderson suffered a shoulder bruise later in the period.
"It was a time in the game when I wanted to get the team juiced up with a change," Wyche said. "Kenny is a poised pro. Boomer came back and kept his head up."
Esiason, who completed 19 of 29 passes for 272 yards, rallied the Bengals from a 29-7 deficit in the third quarter, throwing touchdown passes of 39 and 8 yards to James Brooks and 5 yards to tackle Anthony Munoz on a tackle-eligible play.
Eddie Brown caught 9 passes for 132 yards for the Bengals.
Trailing 29-28, the Bengals got their chance to win with 6:18 left when Wallace fumbled and Cincinnati's David Fulcher recovered at Houston's 36.
But Cincinnati lost possession on fourth down when Wyche elected to try for a first down at Houston's 27 rather than attempt a go-ahead field goal. Esiason was tackled for no gain, and Houston took over for the closing seconds.
"It was a case of the crowd being a factor," Wyche said. "We had a long count. When the ball was snapped, there was a lot of movement (in the line). The rest of the team didn't move. The crowd came to the front. It was fortunate for Houston."