TDBH: Blake adds to legend as Pickens “Dishes,” Houston

Posted Nov 12, 2017

This Day in Bengals History - November 13, 1994

Blakemania takes another improbable turn today at Riverfront Stadium when third-string quarterback Jeff Blake comes out of the X-Ray room and teams with ubiquitous wide receiver Carl Pickens to manufacture 10 points in the final 2:34 and Doug Pelfrey delivers the winning points on a 40-yard field goal at the gun in a 34-31 victory over the shell-shocked Oilers. After Dave Shula claims his first win over Houston in his third season as Bengals head coach, the Oilers fire head coach Jack Pardee the next morning and replace him with defensive coordinator Jeff Fisher even though Blake strafes his top-rated AFC pass defense for 354 yards and four touchdowns. The Bengals move to just 2-8, but this one seems a lot more important than that.


It is Blake’s second straight final-play victory in his third NFL start, it snaps the Bengals’ 12-game losing streak in the AFC Central, and the Riverfront end zone crowd outside the home locker room applauds the man they know is their new starting quarterback. “I think that’s been addressed. It’s obvious. He’s our starting quarterback,” says Shula after the game when he is bombarded with the Blake or David Klingler question. “He’s our starting quarterback. You guys must think I’m an idiot.”

Blake unveils uncanny chemistry with Pickens when the Oilers double team fleet rookie Darnay Scott and leave their best cover guy one-on-one with Pickens and Pickens destroys veteran cornerback Cris Dishman. Pickens hauls in 11 catches for 188 yards in as dominant a performance by any receiver ever.  That includes his final two catches despite pass-interference penalties on Dishman and Dishman has been so dominated that he apologizes to his teammates, his family and the entire city of Houston.  Late in the first quarter Oilers linebacker Eddie Robinson falls on Blake’s left leg just above his ankle as he’s throwing a 17-yard completion to Pickens and he limps the Bengals to a 17-17 half-time tie when he beats the blitz on third-and-six for a 14-yard TD pass to running back Derrick Fenner with 36 seconds left in the half that Blake calls the biggest play of the game.

After Blake hits Pickens for a 50-yard TD pass that ties it at 24 in the first minute of the fourth quarter, he hits the deck and has to get golf carted off the field to the X-Ray room. Pickens flips him the TD ball as they take him away. “He told me to bring it back when I came back,” Blake says. “During the second half I was throwing off my back foot. That’s why my balls were going up. I figured if I could get it up just enough where he could get a play on it; it would take care of itself.”  Fate intervenes and the Oilers go on an eight-minute drive to take a 31-24 lead, but that gives Blake enough time to limp back and not miss a snap. On third-and-one from the Houston 30 he guns it for Pickens and he outmuscles Dishman’s P.I. at the 10 and goes in from there to tie it at 31 on his third TD of the day with 2:34 left. Then with 55 seconds left and blitzed out of the pocket, Blake hangs it up down the sideline and while it’s not the greatest throw, Pickens again outmaneuvers the befuddled Dishman even though he’s hanging all over him and he reaches out to rip away a 33-yard catch that brings on Pelfrey. While Pickens vows to keep his jersey and socks from today because “I’ll probably never play like this again,” no one can get enough of Blake. “He’s a magic man,” Fenner says. As Oilers defensive end Kenny Davidson walks off the field he shakes his head. “The guys so hot right now I should have asked him for some lottery numbers,” Davidson says of a guy who has gone from No. 3 to No. 1.

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