Sunday, August 26, 2001

Bills 20, Bengals 10

Quarterback battle fizzles in drizzle

By Mark Curnutte
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Scott Mitchell is tackled for a safety.
(AP photo)
| ZOOM |
        The Bengals' quarterback race remained as cloudy Saturday night as the sky over Paul Brown Stadium, where Cincinnati fell to Buffalo, 20-10.

        Neither Scott Mitchell nor Jon Kitna took advantage of the opportunity to clearly win the starter's job in the third preseason game. Coach Dick LeBeau is expected to name his starter early in the week, and the winner will start the final preseason game Thursday against Indianapolis as a tune-up for the regular-season opener Sept.9.

        “If one of them had lit it up and scored 35 points, it would have made it a lot easier,” LeBeau said of his decision.

        Mitchell was 8-for-19 passing for 97 yards in the first half. His receivers didn't give him much help by dropping four passes, including one that would have been a touchdown. Mitchell showered, dressed and left the locker room before reporters were allowed in.

Corey Dillon vaults over Darnay Scott.
(Jeff Swinger photo)
| ZOOM |
        Mitchell threw two interceptions and was sacked three times, and his passer rating was 18.9.

        Kitna entered the game at the start of the third quarter and fumbled twice in his first two possessions, losing the second fumble when he was sacked.

        Kitna moved the offense 61 yards from the Bengals' 7-yard line on the final drive against the Bills' second- and third-string defenders, but Richie Cunningham's 50-yard field-goal attempt was 8 yards short.

        Kitna finished 12-for-22 passing for 111 yards but failed to produce any points in six possessions. His passer rating was 63.

        “My case has been made on the field and in practice,” Kitna said. “It's the coach's job to make the decision.”

Takeo Spikes celebrates a sack.
(Jeff Swinger photo)
| ZOOM |
        The attendance was 50,037 on a mostly rainy night as the Bengals fell to 1-2, guaranteeing their 13th non-winning preseason in a row.

        The Bengals had only one sustained scoring drive, their first, all night. They outgained Buffalo 371 yards to 274.

        The mediocre play of Mitchell and Kitna appeared to sustain the hopes of Akili Smith, who sat out with tendinitis in his throwing shoulder.

        “I kind of feel like the door is still open,” said Smith, who tried to throw before the game but couldn't play. “The offense didn't move the ball well. I think I still have a shot.”

        LeBeau didn't rule out Smith, either.

        The Bengals trailed 12-10 at the half despite outgaining Buffalo, 229 yards to 97. Cincinnati had 141 yards rushing, 11 first downs to five and a 14-second time of possession advantage.

Official's flag in the air signals Rodney Heath for pass interference.
(Jeff Swinger photo)
| ZOOM |
        Mitchell directed a 12-play, 67-yard march on Cincinnati's opening drive that ended with Neil Rackers' 23-yard field goal. Veteran wide receiver Darnay Scott, making his first Paul Brown Stadium appearance, dropped a Mitchell pass in the end zone on a third-and-goal play from the 6.

        Corey Dillon, getting his first carries of the preseason, rushed five times for 30 yards on the drive. Mitchell was 3-for-6 passing for 39 yards on the drive, including a first-play completion for 21 yards to Scott on an out pattern.

        Mitchell also figured in Buffalo's first score. He was sacked for a safety by Bills defensive end Erik Flowers. Flowers came off the right end and beat the left side of the Bengals' line, guard Matt O'Dwyer and tackle Richmond Webb.

        Mitchell's interceptions led directly to 10 Buffalo points.

        On second-and-nine from Buffalo's 46, Mitchell threw for Danny Farmer, but the ball floated, enabling former Ohio State star Antoine Winfield to step in front of Farmer and return the ball to the Bengals' 30. Steve Christie made a 43-yard field goal to give the Bills a 5-3 lead.

Dick LeBeau works on the sideline.
(Jeff Swinger photo)
| ZOOM |
        In the second quarter, Winfield intercepted another Mitchell pass that was intended for Scott at the Bengals' 23-yard line. Rob Johnson was forced from the pocket on third-and-11 from the 14, but he found Jeremy McDaniel in the right corner of the end zone in front of safety Tremain Mack.

        The Bills led 12-3.

        The Bengals jumped right back into the game on the next series. After Peter Warrick dropped a Mitchell pass, Brandon Bennett ran 76 yards for a touchdown. He started up the middle and cut to the left, outrunning Buffalo safety Keion Carpenter down the left sideline. Bennett high-stepped the final 10 yards and handed the ball to a fan seated in the first row of the end-zone seats.

        The Bengals drove 30 yards on their final possession of the first half, but Rackers was wide right on a 46-yard field goal attempt that had plenty of distance.

        The Bills pulled ahead in the fourth quarter when running back Curtis Alexander ran 55 yards after the Bengals failed to convert a fourth-down play.

        A facemask penalty on cornerback Robert Bean moved the ball to the 5. Quarterback Alex Van Pelt rolled right and hit tight end John Whitman in the end zone. The Bengals fell for a similar fake running play to the left on the two-point conversion, and Van Pelt tight end Dan O'Leary on a rollout to the right for a 20-10 lead.

        The Bengals defense had six sacks for the game.

Bengals Stories
- Bills 20, Bengals 10
Kitna may win by default
Bennett seems solid No. 2 RB
Bengals-Bills statistics

Reds 4, Expos 2
Reese on the rebound?
Sowers looks set to spurn Reds
Nichting doesn't take demotion lightly
Return to Reds works for Jennings
Fan's-eye view of the Reds
Reds box, runs
UC coach is a lifesaver
Prep football page
What happened to Klonne at Moeller?
SULLIVAN: College Saturdays beat pro Sundays
PGA Seniors return this week
Voska in Southern Ohio Open Monday
Best and worst of the week in sports
Auto Racing Insider
Baseball Insider
Why FSN missed Reds' rally
Cincinnati high school results
High School Insider
N.Ky. high school results

Return to Bengals front page...