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Top 50 Moments: Blakemania is Born

Posted Oct 3, 2017

Bengals president Mike Brown once said Jeff Blake came to the Bengals from Hollywood. They ended up shooting the first scene at an unsuspecting Riverfront Stadium on Oct. 30, 1994 against the defending Super Bowl champion Cowboys.

Bengals president Mike Brown once said Jeff Blake came to the Bengals from Hollywood. They ended up shooting the first scene at an unsuspecting Riverfront Stadium on Oct. 30, 1994 against the defending Super Bowl champion Cowboys.

Blake, the No. 3 quarterback who arrived barely two months before on the waiver wire, gets his first NFL start when David Klingler and Donald Hollas are hobbled within minutes of a dreadful 37-13 loss in Cleveland the week before.

Playing for a team that has lost 26 of its previous 30 games and is at 0-7 for the season, the 23-year-old Blake leans back and lights a spark in the desert when he throws two balls in the air that turn into touchdown bombs of 67 and 55 yards to wide receiver Darnay Scott to give the Bengals an early 14-0 lead.

A highly controversial roughing-the-passer call on Bengals linebacker James Francis that turns a Troy Aikman incomplete pass on fourth down into a touchdown helps the Cowboys to a 23-20 win. But Blakemania is born, the fans are energized, and head coach Dave Shula supplies an added bonus when he chews out Cowboys coach Barry Switzer at midfield after the game for comparing his team during the week to Big Eight doormat Iowa State.

Blakemania rolls on the next two weeks as he keeps chucking the long ball. His 367-yard day in Seattle gives the Bengals their first win and breaks the NFL's longest road losing streak, and then he comes home to engineer a win at the gun over Houston on a gimpy ankle with 354 more to break the Bengals' 12-game losing streak against division foes.

Blake becomes the Bengals quarterback and a folk hero overnight, securing a long-term deal after his 14th NFL start early the next season on the way to a Pro Bowl berth with an AFC-best 28 touchdown passes, one off Ken Anderson's club record.

But as quickly as Shake 'N Blake appears, it vanishes. By the middle of '97 he's benched in favor of Boomer Esiason, in '98 the Bengals sign Neil O'Donnell, in '99 they draft Akili Smith, and in 2000 Blake is in New Orleans.

But for two-and-a-half seasons, especially the day he bombs the world champs, Blake legitimizes the franchise.

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