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THE NFL / 1996

Jaguar Key: Make No Mistakes

AFC: Brunell passes for 356 yards with no interceptions in 30-27 victory over Bengals.

December 02, 1996|From Associated Press

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Jacksonville Jaguars picked the right time to start playing their best football. And Mark Brunell couldn't have picked a better game to stop throwing interceptions.

Against the league's stingiest defense, Brunell played a mistake-free game and led the Jaguars to a 30-27 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday.

Brunell, whose 300-yard passing games have been marred by a league-high 20 interceptions, gave the Jaguars the lead for good when, while being hit, he threw to Keenan McCardell for a 48-yard touchdown. Brunell also passed to Willie Jackson for a two-point conversion.

Brunell then drove the Jaguars the length of the field and Mike Hollis put the game away with his team-record fifth field goal.

The Bengals got to within 30-27 when Carl Pickens caught a tipped pass to score with 15 seconds left, but the onside-kick attempt was too long and out of bounds, giving Jacksonville possession.

"It was a good day for us not to turn the ball over and to control it," Jaguar Coach Tom Coughlin said.

Despite rainy conditions, Brunell passed for 356 yards, his league-leading sixth 300-yard game of the season. And despite facing a Bengal defense that already has a franchise-record 28 interceptions, tops in the NFL, he avoided an interception for the first time since a 21-17 victory over the New York Jets on Oct. 13.

"He impresses me every time he takes the field," said Jimmy Smith, who caught seven passes for a career-high 162 yards.

The Jaguars (6-7), who kept their slim wild-card hopes alive with their second consecutive victory, took advantage of key errors by the Bengals (5-8).

Clyde Simmons blocked Doug Pelfrey's 42-yard field-goal attempt on the opening drive, and Mickey Washington returned it 65 yards for a touchdown. Then Washington intercepted a pass by Jeff Blake to set up a field goal.

"We spotted them 10 points. You can't do that," said Blake, who passed for 313 yards and three touchdowns, all to Pickens.

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