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NFL Recap (Cincinnati-Tennessee)
Posted: Sun October 18, 1998 at 6:06 p.m. EDTTENNESSEE 44, CINCINNATI 14
NASHVILLE, Tennessee (Ticker) -- Playing without starting wide receivers Yancey Thigpen and Willie Davis did not slow down the Tennessee Oilers as Steve McNair passed for 277 yards in the team's biggest offensive output in seven years, a 44-14 romp over the Cincinnati Bengals.
McNair completed 16-of-21 passes and ran and threw for touchdowns before sitting out the entire fourth quarter in the Oilers' biggest point total since a 47-17 rout of the Los Angeles Raiders on December 1st, 1991. Eddie George carried 25 times for 107 yards and also sat out the final quarter.
"You definitely want them in the game, but we have confidence in the younger guys," said Tennessee H-back Frank Wycheck. "They stepped and played a great game and we knew we had to go out and play with the people we had in and we knew they'd do a good job so we weren't really worried about it."
Tennessee (3-3) swept two games from the Bengals for the first time since 1993 and moved into sole possession of third place in the AFC Central. The Oilers dominated the Bengals, outgaining their divisional rivals, 515-334.
Kevin Dyson, the first wide receiver selected in the 1998 draft, made his first NFL start and caught a 45-yard TD to give the Oilers a 37-7 advantage with 5:51 left in the third quarter. Isaac Byrd, playing in his first NFL game, had five receptions for 53 yards and Chris Sanders caught three passes for 101 yards, his seventh career 100-yard game. Thigpen was sidelined with a strained groin and Davis had a chest injury.
"I waited for this opportunity all my life, and I was more excited than nervous," Byrd said. "Once I got the first catch in and got that first hit out of the way, I just settled down and started playing my game."
Cincinnati (2-4), coming off a 25-20 upset of the Pittsburgh Steelers last week, suffered its worst loss since a 42-7 setback to the Minnesota Vikings on September 27th, 1992. Neil O'Donnell, who threw for 298 yards and three touchdowns in last week's win over his former team, was just 11-of-22 for 124 yards and a TD. Corey Dillon recorded his second 100-yard rushing performance of the season, carrying 14 times for 124 yards.
"They just kicked our (butt)," said Cincinnati coach Bruce Coslet. "It's hard to win a game when they score every time they touch the ball in the first half. We got our (butts) handed to us. We got blocked, we couldn't tackle and we made assignment error after assignment error."
The Oilers outgained the Bengals, 304-72, in the first half and had a 20-0 lead at the break. Tennessee took the lead just under five minutes into the game when running back Mike Archie took a pitch from McNair and threw an 18-yard scoring pass to tight end Jackie Harris.
Al Del Greco's 35-yard field goal capped a 15-play, 66-yard drive and gave the Oilers a 10-0 lead 2:12 into the second quarter. McNair's one-yard plunge increased the advantage to 17-0 with 2:18 left in the second. Tennessee got the ball back with 47 seconds left in the first half and McNair's 19-yard pass to Sanders set up Del Greco's 38-yard field goal eight seconds before halftime.
Tennessee increased the lead on its first possession in the second half as McNair threw a 38-yard pass to Wycheck to set up Del Greco's 42-yard field goal. Cincinnati's struggles continued as O'Donnell threw consecutive incomplete passes before he was sacked by cornerback Darryll Lewis on a blitz, jarring the ball loose. Defensive tackle Gary Walker pounced on the ball popping it up to linebacker Joe Bowden, who sprinted 12 yards to make it 30-0 just 4:55 into the third quarter.
The Bengals went 80 yards on eight plays to make it 30-7 when Dillon ran 12 yards around the left end with 6:11 to go in the third. Archie then returned the kickoff 50 yards to the Cincinnati 45 and McNair tossed a TD pass to Sanders on 1st down for a 37-7 cushion.
O'Donnell's 76-yard pass to rookie Damon Gibson made it 37-14, 2:45 into the fourth. Rodney Thomas had a one-yard plunge to cap the scoring with 4:30 to play. Thomas, who had just six rushes in Tennessee's first five games, carried 11 times for 48 yards. Backup quarterback Dave Krieg was 3-of-3 for 57 yards in his third appearance this season.
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