Bengals keep on winning

Published: Monday, December 1, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, November 30, 2003 at 10:16 p.m.
PITTSBURGH - The Cincinnati Bengals aren't supposed to win like this. Not against this team or against these odds. Not at this time of the season or in so big a game.
Somehow they did, and the franchise that could barely win a game of any kind for 12 seasons now has the kind of season-defining victory that can lead to championships.
Jon Kitna's third touchdown pass, an 18-yarder in the rear of the end zone to Matt Schobel with 13 seconds left, finished a last-minute drive that carried the Bengals past the rival Pittsburgh Steelers 24-20 Sunday.
The Bengals (7-5) not only won their fourth in a row and sixth in seven games to set up a first-place showdown next week in Baltimore, they all but eliminated the Steelers (4-8). Pittsburgh won six of the last nine titles in the AFC North or Central. The Steelers are one loss away from their third losing season in the last five.
"In years past, we didn't win the tough games," running back Corey Dillon said. "Now we're winning them. As long as I've been here, December was just December, it doesn't mean too much. This is different."
Tommy Maddox, 28-of-42 for 313 yards, gave Pittsburgh its first lead at 20-17 with a 16-yard touchdown pass to Hines Ward with 1:05 remaining. The Steelers rallied from a 14-3 deficit behind Jerome Bettis' 1-yard touchdown run on a 75-play drive and Jeff Reed's 39-yard field goal.
But after Reed's short kickoff into a strong wind and Brandon Bennett's 27-yard return gave Cincinnati the ball at its 48, Kitna - who has 18 touchdown passes and only one interception in Cincinnati's seven victories - got the Bengals in the end zone in four plays.
  • CHIEFS 28, CHARGERS 24: Priest Holmes ran 31 times for 162 yards and two touchdowns, and Tony Gonzalez caught two touchdown passes from Trent Green to lift the Chiefs (11-1). Kansas City capitalized on two turnovers by Doug Flutie in the final 11 minutes against San Diego (2-10).
    But the Chiefs, the NFL's best team, weren't able to clinch the AFC West because Denver beat Oakland.
  • BRONCOS 22, RAIDERS 8: Clinton Portis carried 34 times for 170 yards and two touchdowns and the Broncos held Oakland without a touchdown for the first time this season.
    All the Broncos (7-5) really had to overcome was the wet weather - the raucous Raider Nation was subdued for a change. What little success Oakland (3-9) had moving the ball was more than offset by its untimely penalties and other mistakes.
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