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NFL Recap (Tennessee-Cincinnati)
Posted: Sun September 6, 1998 at 8:30 p.m. EDTTENNESSEE 23, CINCINNATI 14
Veteran quarterback Dave Krieg replaced injured starter Steve McNair and led a key scoring drive and Al Del Greco kicked two of his three field goals in the fourth quarter as the Tennessee Oilers defeated the Cincinnati Bengals, 23-14.
Krieg directed a 10-play, 81-yard drive to increase Tennessee's lead to 17-7 in the third quarter. He completed 3-of-4 passes for 51 yards in the drive, which was capped by Eddie George's three-yard touchdown run.
"Steve (McNair) said, 'Your in a good rhythm. Go ahead and stay out there,' Krieg said. "Give him credit for that. He's a team player."
McNair struggled early, then left in the second quarter with a injured throwing elbow after being hit from behind but still helped Tennessee to its fourth win in five games at Cincinnati.
"The second half when Dave got in his groove, he was moving the offense," McNair said. "I wasn't worried. We didn't execute in the first half. There was no pressure, just something we need to correct."
Del Greco kicked field goals of 31, 38 and 48 yards, the last of which cappped the scoring with 5:28 left. His 47-yard attempt with just over three minutes to play hit the left upright.
The 36-year-old kicker broke the team record by hitting at least one field goal in his 12th consecutive game dating to last season. He also extended his own club mark by scoring in his 61st straight contest.
Neil O'Donnell threw a 23-yard TD pass to Darnay Scott in his Bengals debut, but tossed a key interception to safety Marcus Robertson at Cincinnati's 37 with 7:03 to play. Tennessee cashed in on the turnover when Del Greco kicked a 48-yard field goal.
"I had to let it go when I had to," O'Donnell said. "It happens. You have to take your shots."
"Neal was OK," Cincinnati coach Bruce Coslet said. "He did some nice things."
O'Donnell, who signed with Cincinnati this summer after becoming a salary cap casualty with the New York Jets, went 24-of-32 for 200 yards, but the Bengals continued their trend of getting off to slow starts.
"Last year, I'll take responsibility, but this is just one game," added Coslet, whose team started 1-7 in 1997. "We've got to get after Detroit (next week). We've got to get over it by Wednesday."
McNair completed 10-of-21 passes for 135 yards before leaving with a mild elbow injury. X-rays taken at halftime were negative.
"Steve bruised his elbow and lost some feeling," said Tennessee coach Jeff Fisher. "He had problems at halftime and couldn't grip the ball. It got better in the second half, but we decided to stay with Dave."
While moving into sixth place on the Oilers' all-time passing list with 4,566 yards, McNair gave Tennessee the lead for good, 10-7, with an eight-yard scoring strike to Willie Davis 8:53 into the second quarter. He had set up the TD with a 13-yard pass to Derrick Mason on 3rd-and-5 from the Bengals 32.
The 39-year-old Krieg, who attempted two passes in eight games last season, completed 7-of-13 passes for 129 yards. A 19-year veteran, Krieg signed with the Oilers as a free agent prior to the 1997 season.
"I'm extremely happy to know that I can still go out there," said Krieg, who was the NFL's oldest active QB until Steve DeBerg unretired this year. "It was only a half, but it's good to know that I can still do it."
Ater Krieg's opening drive in the third quarter, O'Donnell led the Bengals on a nine-play, 80-yard drive. Corey Dillon's three-yard TD run cut Tennessee's lead to 17-14.
Dillon rushed 20 times for 87 yards, a far cry from last season's effort against the Oilers when he totaled 246 yards, breaking the 40-year-old NFL rookie record of 237 set by Hall of Famer Jim Brown.
"Our run defense was good," Fisher said. "Corey Dillon is a helluva back and our defensive line did a lot better than we did last year."
Krieg and free agent signee Yancey Thigpen answered Cincinnati'score, hooking up on an acrobatic 55-yard connection to the Bengals 18.
"It was a great play by Yancey," Krieg said. "I was being a little safe early. I could have thrown it a little farther."
After Davis failed to keep his foot in bounds on an apparent TD pass from Krieg, Del Greco hit a 31-yarder four seconds into the fourth quarter, giving Tennessee a 20-14 advantage.
The Oilers, who went 2-6 on the road in 1997, won for the third time in four season-openers.
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