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THE NFL / 1996

Cincinnati a Winner Once Again, 24-21

AFC: Bengals keep Testaverde on sideline in second half and win second game under Coslet.

November 04, 1996|From Associated Press

BALTIMORE — The Cincinnati Bengals figured their best chance of making a second-half comeback was to keep Vinny Testaverde on the sideline.

The Bengals did that, although the minimal time Testaverde spent on the field actually proved beneficial to Cincinnati in its 24-21 victory Sunday.

Testaverde, the leading passer in the AFC, threw four interceptions--three in the second half--as the Bengals rallied from an 18-point deficit to win their second consecutive game under Coach Bruce Coslet on a 34-yard field goal by Doug Pelfrey as time expired.

Cincinnati stumbled through the first half, allowing Testaverde to throw for 204 yards and two touchdowns while Baltimore built a 21-3 lead. At halftime, Coslet knew what had to be done if the Bengals were to stage a rally.

"We wanted to keep Vinny off the field. We weren't getting it done in the first half," Coslet said. "We weren't making our third-down plays, and every time you do that, you put Vinny back out on the field. That was a big part of our game plan, just keep him on the bench."

The Bengals held the ball for 22:01 in the second half compared to 7:59 for the Ravens. Baltimore's five second-half possessions went: punt, interception, interception, interception, punt.

"We lost a football game that we should have won. But you're not going to win games when you play 30 minutes in this league," Baltimore Coach Ted Marchibroda said.

The Bengals (3-6) trailed, 21-3, but held the Ravens (3-6) scoreless in the second half while permitting only six first downs. A one-yard touchdown run by KiJana Carter, a four-yard run by Jeff Blake and a 49-yard field goal by Pelfrey with 1:49 left tied the score.

Testaverde then threw three consecutive incompletions before the Ravens punted.

Blake moved the Bengals from their 28 to the Baltimore 16 in six plays before Pelfrey kicked the game-winner.

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