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Paper Tigers Can't Stay With Steelers

October 14, 2002|From Associated Press

CINCINNATI — Jon Kitna had the best game of his career against the Pittsburgh Steelers last year. He followed it with the worst performance of his life.

Kitna threw three interceptions -- two to Lee Flowers -- and lost a fumble while getting sacked, helping the Steelers roll to a 34-7 victory over the winless Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.

"They did us a favor out there, let's face it," said Flowers, who matched his career total for interceptions. "We don't need to get too high right now. We played well, but at the same time, we were in the right position at the right time.

"Not bad-mouthing Kitna, but I thought he made some bad throws today. It wasn't like we had to make great breaks on the ball."

Kitna inadvertently drew up the blueprint for beating the Steelers last December when he attempted 68 passes and threw for 411 yards. New England and Oakland used a similar passing strategy to beat the Steelers this season.

This time, Pittsburgh went after Kitna with a "Steal Curtain" approach: Pressure the quarterback, let him throw it up for grabs and steal it away.

"I've been playing since fifth grade," Kitna said. "I've never played more poorly than I did today. I've never been more disappointed in myself."

The Steelers (2-3) also got a 99-yard kickoff return from rookie Antwaan Randle El, the second-longest in team history, to open the second half and put them ahead, 31-0.

Cincinnati Coach Dick LeBeau had joked that if his team won Sunday, he would dive into the Ohio River.

Instead, the Bengals went right into the tank once again.

The Bengals are 0-6 for the fifth time since 1991, when they started their run as the NFL's worst franchise.

"We're the laughingstock of the league," running back Lorenzo Neal said.

"It's embarrassing. It's a disgrace. Teams just look at you with no respect."

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