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THE NFL / 1996

Johnson Scores Twice in Cardinals' Victory

September 23, 1996|From Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS — LeShon Johnson earned a good night's sleep and guaranteed that the Arizona Cardinal coaches won't have another sleepless Sunday night.

Johnson scored the first two touchdowns of his NFL career on 56- and 70-yard runs as the Cardinals defeated the New Orleans Saints, 28-14, Sunday in a game matching two winless teams.

Johnson rushed for 214 yards, including 189 and two touchdowns in the second half. He had four yards rushing for the season coming into the game, and had only 97 yards in his career before this season.

"At 200 yards a pop, it shouldn't be hard for him to get 1,000," Arizona running back Larry Centers said. "I was just making blocks, and when I looked up, he was downfield 20 or 30 yards. When you're hitting a hole like that, it's hard not to hit your head on the goal post."

Arizona (1-3) scored 23 points in its first three games and had only three rushing touchdowns all of last year.

The Saints (0-4) played before a home crowd of 34,316, their smallest since 1980, when they finished 1-15. They started 0-5 last year and finished, 7-9.

"We are just so inconsistent," New Orleans Coach Jim Mora said. "There are times when we look so good, and then there were those two long runs where we looked bad. We looked terrible."

After two first-half field goals by Greg Davis, Arizona scored its third touchdown of the season and first of the game in the third quarter on Kent Graham's 20-yard touchdown pass to Rob Moore. Johnson then scored on the 56-yard run on the first play of the fourth quarter and on the 70-yard run two minutes later, giving the Cardinals a 28-7 lead.

Graham, who replaced Boomer Esiason as the Cardinals' starting quarterback this week, completed 10 of 25 passes for 165 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

"It's a great feeling," Graham said. "This is a great thing for our team. Our offensive line played great. LeShon ran the ball well. We blocked well. It was a good 60 minutes for us on the whole."

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