TDBH: Bengals chill Browns, 21-0, to stay in it

Posted Dec 2, 2017

This Day in Bengals History - December 3, 1989

CLEVELAND - The day begins with Bengals head coach Sam Wyche wandering into the Dawg Pound during pregame and kibitzing with the Browns faithful. But if the defending AFC champion Bengals, mired at 6-6,  are to repeat, they must break The Pound and win today. Linebacker Reggie Williams drives the point home when he arrives wearing a tuxedo. “If we had lost this game,” says Williams, the 14-year vet retiring at the end of the season, “that one last remaining dream to somehow get to the end of a Super Bowl victorious would have been totally lost.” The day ends in a minus-15 wind chill driven by the Lake’s 30 mile-per-hour wind with Williams screaming in the huddle to finish off their first shutout in nine years and 148 games. After three interceptions and an acrobatic day at wide receiver from Cleveland native Tim McGee fashion a 21-0 victory, the Bengals are tied for a Wild Card spot and within a half game of first place and the 7-5-1 Browns. “We’ve been a very immature team this year,” says quarterback Boomer Esiason. “We think we can beat anybody and we’ve proven to ourselves when we play at home anybody can beat us.”

But the Bengals keep their heads against a swarming Browns defense ranked third in the NFL. Last night Esiason puts the fate of the game in the hands of the offensive line and they don’t let him get sacked on 32 throws. He muscles 14 completions and 197 yards through the wind, including McGee’s diving 38-yard touchdown catch off a flea-flicker. Running back James Brooks almost decides to run the sweep before pitching it back to Esiason. “He was wandering around like it was a Sunday afternoon picnic,” Esiason says. McGee feast when he remembers offensive coordinator Bruce Coslet giving him a note about Browns cornerback Frank Minnifield and when McGee keeps his feet after Minnifield drives off him to get the ball, McGee is open enough to roll three yards into the end zone after the catch.  “It’s like catching a curve ball in baseball,” McGee says of the wind. “You just have to look it all the way in.”

Bengals defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau drives Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar to the bench with a string of zone-blitz pressures that result in chilly 15 of 30 passing for a scant 130 yards before Mike Pagel mops up and gets picked by Pro Bowl safety David Fulcher. Linebacker Leon White gets one of the two Kosar gifts courtesy of the rush when he finds himself in a zone with Browns future Hall-of-Fame tight end Ozzie Newsome at the Bengals 33. “I just wanted to stop them from throwing that little pop pass to Ozzie five yards off the line of scrimmage,” White says. “We had a lot of pressure on the quarterback. I was really surprised he threw it. He threw it right to me.” Now the pressure is on these up-and-down Bengals to finish up. After a week their coach rode them hard, Esiason reveals Wyche yelled at his team last night, exhorting them to not only pick up their paychecks, but win while they’re doing it. “I was yelling and screaming and jumping their butts all week long,” Wyche says. “I think we know how to do it now.”

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