CINCINNATI — Seen Bo Jackson's highlight film? Then you've seen a lot of the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Bengals have made major contributions to the legend of Bo Jackson in their last two games against the Raiders. The Bengals allowed him two long, sizzling runs that left them winded and beaten.
"Because of the way the last two games have gone, you're usually looking at the Bengals' defense whenever you see highlights of Bo," cornerback Lewis Billups said. "I'm really tired of seeing those."
If they see an encore Sunday, they're not likely to see another playoff game.
The Bengals are determined to stop Jackson this Sunday in Los Angeles. No big runs, no game-breaking plays, no more air time.
"He's burned us two times in a row. Nobody wants to see that happen again," safety David Fulcher said.
Easier said than done.
The Bengals concede that Jackson got the better of them in 1989, when he turned the corner and outran the secondary for a 92-yard touchdown. It was the highlight of his 159-yard rushing performance and the decisive play in the Raiders' 28-7 victory in Los Angeles.
He went one better Dec. 16 in Los Angeles. He started left, saw a wall of defenders, reversed his field, outran the pursuit to the right sideline, cut upfield, hurdled a man and went 88 yards. Cornerback Rod Jones dove and tripped him up at the Bengals' 1-yard line, temporarily preventing the decisive touchdown in a 24-7 victory.
Jackson's only noteworthy run of the game made the difference and left the Bengals perplexed--they had the play perfectly defensed but couldn't stop him.
"Even though we were banged up the last two times we played them, we stayed in there pretty good until--whammo!--something big happened," Cincinnati Coach Sam Wyche said.
That's "big" as in "Bo."
The Bengals went into the game determined to contain Jackson. They did that--except for the one play that beat them. Jackson was held to a total of 29 yards the rest of the game.
Nonetheless, he was the difference.
So how do the Bengals try to stop him in their second-round playoff game Sunday? By doing pretty much what they've been doing--and hoping for better results.
"The only secret is the obvious answer," Wyche said. "You've always got to have every lane filled by somebody. You can't allow the cutbacks. You can't allow the quick hitter with no second layer of players falling over the top to make the hit.
"He's so fast that he is going to be gone before you can react. You've already got to be there. You've got to have a plan to cover all the gaps. It's balanced pursuit."
Other teams have been able to do it. A week after his run against Cincinnati, Jackson was held to 65 yards on 17 carries against Minnesota. And San Diego allowed him just 28 yards on 11 carries in the final regular-season game.
The Cincinnati game was Jackson's third straight 100-yard rushing effort. In his next two games, he was held to 93 total. What does that mean?
Raiders Coach Art Shell says it means he's due.
"They come in spurts," Shell said. "Sometimes he'll go a couple of games without a big play and all of a sudden he'll hit one, and hit one the next game and the next game."