Sunday, August 29, 1999


'I'm worried' says tackle Anderson

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Terry Murphy (12) reacts after dropping a pass across the middle.
(Saed Hindash photo)
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        This was supposed to be the dawning of the age of Akili, but it looked like a return to the Dark Ages for the Bengals here at Cinergy Field on Saturday night.

        The boos were heard throughout a 30-3 loss to the Buffalo Bills before a surly 40,378 at the Bengals' home exhibition opener. That was the way they left after last season's 35-0 loss to Tampa Bay finished a 3-13 season.

        Bengals fans are unhappy with a first-team offense that has scored only three points in the last two exhibition games.

        “People tell you not to be worried, but I'm worried,” right tackle Willie Anderson said. “I'm worried because we put an emphasis on it, a sense of urgency. Now you get this urgency and now ... three points.”

Kurt Schulz (24) breaks up a pass intended for James Hundon (85).
(AP photo)
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        In the last two games, the offense behind quarterback Jeff Blake has converted just two of 14 third-down tries. The Bengals converted just one of 12 third-down tries Saturday, and that came on the game's fifth play.

        Blake tried to reassure his teammates and the public after the game. He called a Monday meeting of the offense.

        “I don't want them getting down, to get frustrated,” Blake said. “When I've been the quarterback, the Bengals have scored points. We haven't shown a lot of our offense. We don't want to give everything away.”

        The Bengals' new offensive line had trouble on third down picking up the Bills' batch of pass-rushing stunts.

Antowain Smith (23) avoids a diving tackle by Thomas Randolph.
(AP photo)
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        Coach Bruce Coslet made a statement when he kept the first line in there until five minutes left in the third quarter.

        “We had problems picking up stunts,” Coslet said. “We'll work that out. It takes time. We've got three guys playing new positions. We take out (Corey) Dillon, and we can't get a first down. It's not fair to judge Blake's performance tonight. He didn't have a chance a lot of times.”

        It wasn't just Blake. When rookie Scott Covington took over on the first drive of the second half, he was greeted by Bills left end Phil Hansen. It was Hansen's third sack of the night, and it ended the drive.

Rodney Heath tackles Reginald Allen (16) after a long pass.
(Thomas E. Witte photo)
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        The game's opening drive made the evening look promising for the Bengals. They took just 10 plays and 4:20 to go 54 yards to get Doug Pelfrey's 44-yard field goal.

        Cincinnati got just 45 yards the rest of the half as Blake spent much of his time running from the Bills.

        The Bengals' defense played well in the face of the team's offensive antics and the fact punter Brad Costello had to leave after his first punt when his bad hip flared up and left the duties to Pelfrey.


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