Updated: 9:15 p.m.
Chad Ocho Cinco blew his coach kisses, Andrew Whitworth made John Henderson blow, and the Bengals didn't blow the game as they embraced their first victory of the season Sunday, 21-19, when cornerback Johnathan Joseph and safety Marvin White converged on Jaguars wide receiver Jerry Porter in the end zone to successfully defend a two-point try with 1:17 left at Paul Brown Stadium.
After running back Cedric Benson's long-awaited first 100-yard rushing game as a non-Bear (104 yards on 24 carries) and third overall was the Bengals' first of the season, after quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick waited out his first win as an NFL starter in four years with two touchdown passes, and after two guys that don't say much in Whitworth and T.J Houshmandzadeh stood up in front of their teammates in the last 24 hours, the Bengals finally celebrated No.1.
Cedric Benson recorded his first 100-yard rushing game (104 yards) as a Bengal. (AP photo)
Or, as right guard Bobbie Williams put it: "Liberation. We did it. We knew we could. We went out there and it's finally off our back."
After James Brown finished off the traditional Who-Dey chant that follows a win, cornerback Leon Hall observed, "I almost forgot the song. We haven't sung it in so long."
But the sighing and chanting didn't begin until Joseph had Porter coming off the line on a slant over the middle and got a hand on the ball before White popped it free.
Joseph said the film study during the week showed that when the Jags lined up in a three-receiver set with a tight end and quarterback David Garrard under center, they usually threw slants.
"And I knew I had the safety on the way," Joseph said.
Garrard said he wanted wide receiver Matt Jones on the outside, but Hall had good coverage.
"They were inside on Matt," Garrard said. "The route we had wasn't good for that. It was a break and run. It was a slant. I thought I had a better shot going to the other side. Usually, when we get down there, I'm thinking Matt most of the time. When you've got somebody like Jerry on the other side, you hope he can make plays too. I've got to put the ball more into his body. There was a lot of traffic in there. It was a tough play. They did a good job of making it very hard for us in there."
Jacksonville had cut the lead to two on Maurice Jones-Drew's one-yard yard touchdown run that capped an 11-play drive that consumed 4:39.
"I think that is his way of telling me to relax," said Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis of The Ocho's kisses on a day they couldn't relax until the fourth and final illegal lateral.
Despite all the drama, the team that came into the game with not having a lead for about 185 minutes (midway through the first quarter against the Jets) never lost it once they went up 7-0 late in the first quarter.
Jags storm back
The Bengals raced to a 21-3 lead into the fourth quarter but it turned ugly quickly as the Jags cut the lead to 21-13 with 13:17 left in the game when fullback Montell Owens picked up Bengals wide receiver Glenn Holt's fumble on a kickoff for an 18-yard touchdown following a hit by cornerback Chad Nkang.
The game began to take the strange twist with 2:14 left in the third quarter when Fitzpatrick threw a 23-yard bullet to Houshmandzadeh on third-and-11 to put the ball on the Jacksonville 42
But back upfield, Henderson, the Jags volatile defensive tackle, had ripped the helmet off Whitworth, the left guard, then jumped him from behind and had him in a headlock. Whitworth tried to get away when he said Henderson "was gouging my eyes out," and Whitworth said he had to defend himself by throwing punches.
Henderson was called for illegal hands to the face and unsportsmanlike conduct and was ejected. Since Whitworth was called for unsportsmanlike and also was ejected, the Bengals lost the play when Fitzpatrick got sacked on the do over and had to punt and the Jags turned it into a field goal to make it 21-6.
What made it even weirder is that after the walkthrough on Saturday at PBS, Whitworth decided to call out his offensive teammates.
"I just told them that there used to a time around here when we had a lot of confidence on offense," Whitworth said. "Nobody is going to push us around, nobody is going to think we're a joke and we're going to stand up for ourselves in every situation possible. It's weird I got put in that situation."
It was a weekend for speeches. After Bobbie Williams joined Whitworth with a few things to say Saturday, Houshmandzadeh addressed the team Sunday before the game.
"Basically, it was 'let's go out there and at least play with some pride and stop what's going on out there,' " Houshmandzadeh said after seven more catches. "I don't usually say much, but I felt like it was time."
What had to have Henderson hot is that the Bengals finally got their running game going against one of the more physical bunches in the NFL. The Bengals came in averaging 78 yards per game on the ground at an anemic 3.4 per rush. They doubled that with a season-high 159 and they eye-gouged the Jags for 5.5 per carry.
One play after he ripped off a 30-yard run for the Bengals longest run of the season, Benson poked through a cave formed by the left side of the Bengals line for a seven-yard touchdown run that gave the Bengals the 21-3 lead.
"That's the offensive line right there. The draw action was working pretty well," Benson said.
The score came courtesy of middle linebacker Dhani Jones' first interception of the season, which snapped Jacksonville quarterback David Garrard's string of 166 straight passes without a pick.
Then the defense followed that up with Sims' first NFL sack, a nice open field trip of Garrard trying to get out of the pocket.
"I've got to hand it to him; he's a heck of a guy," said Sims of John Thornton, the veteran defensive tackle that told the coaches he's willing to give the running snaps to Sims while he takes the downs in the pasing sets.
With PBS sensing the first win of the year, Hall ripped away a third-down pass from wide receiver Dennis Northcutt while they battled in the air for Jacksonville's third of five three-and-outs of the day.
Bengals strong in first half
It was defense, the running game, and the arms and legs of Fitzpatrick as the Bengals grabbed a 14-3 halftime lead on his two touchdown passes to Ocho Cinco. Benson rolled up 86 yards on his first 14 carries for a team that hasn't had a runner get 70 yards rushing this season and it was the Bengals' first 100-yard rush day since Kenny Watson's 130-yarder against the Jets last season.
Fitzpatrick's 52 first-half rushing yards were only one shy of Garrard's 53 passing yards and the Bengals stuffed the dangerous backfield duo of Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor with 31 yards on nine carries. The duo would end up with just 45 yards on 15 carries.
Ocho Cinco, five catches for 37 yards, beat all-star cornerback Rashean Mathis for each score, the last one a 10-yard fade that the sliding Ocho grabbed and slid to keep his feet in-bounds to give the Bengals a 14-0 lead with 10:44 left in the half.
One snap after he converted a third-and-seven with a perfect throw to the right shoulder of running back Chris Perry for a 10-yard gain, Fitzpatrick took off a for a 22-yard run up the middle after Benson picked up a blitz. One of Fitzpatrick's runs was a 12-yarder on a draw, and he was a Carson Palmer-esque 11-of-14 passing for 77 yards (on his way to 21-of-31 for 162 and a pick) as the Bengals converted their first five third-down tries in the half.
And the defense kept the momentum rolling. They came into the game last in the NFL on third down, but on a third-and-four from the Jags 45 and up 14-0, left end Robert Geathers got his first full sack of the season (one of the club's season-high three) when Garrard couldn't get rid of the ball against the coverage.
But the Bengals let the game get away from them on the next series, facing a third-and-one with the clock ticking under six minutes in the half. Fitzpatrick had to call a timeout at the line amid some confusion and when they came back out the Jags loaded up in a heavy package. They tried to send Benson wide left. But rookie tackle Anthony Collins got overpowered and Benson lost three yards. Then Kyle Larson's punt went just 39 yards and the Jags were in business at the Cincinnati 49.
The Jags got three points out of it, but they needed a 52-yard field goal from Josh Scobee with 3:03 left in the half to cut Cincinnati's lead to 14-3. The Bengals got a big hit from White over the middle to dislodge a first-down catch from tight end Marcedes Lewis and then on third down end Eric Henderson came off the edge to hit Garrard as he threw a deep incompletion down the sideline to wide receiver Matt Jones. A false start also didn't help the Jags.
Benson got the running game going on 10 carries for 46 yards as a Bengals back finally broke the 4.0 per-carry barrier for the first time this season.
Ocho Cinco puts Bengals up early
The Bengals scored their first offensive touchdown of the first quarter this season when Fitzpatrick drilled a two-yard touchdown pass to Ocho Cinco behind Mathis in the corner to give the Bengals a 7-0 lead with 2:28 left.
It came out of nowhere. In the first eight games on the first series the Bengals had seven three-and-outs and an interception.
It was also the first time in about 185 minutes that the Bengals had the lead and came courtesy of Fitzpatrick's 7-of-8 passing for 47 yards. Larson, the holder, saved the day on the extra point when he stood up to corral a high snap and got it down in time for Shayne Graham.
The big play came after Houshmandzadeh suffered a false start in the slot on third-and-five. He came back to make a 16-yard catch in the middle of the zone for his NFL-leading 21st catch on third down. It was a pass-oriented drive but still chewed 7:51 and the Bengals got a life when defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy went offsides on third and three from the Jags 7. The Bengals secured their first first-quarter lead of the season when they stuffed the Jaguars on third-and-one as Hall blitzed and came up to dump Jones-Drew on a sweep.
The Bengals couldn't take advantage of Scobee's muff on the opening kick of the second half that skittered out of bounds and put the Bengals at their own 40. They did get a first down with the help of a slant to Chris Henry and a run by Benson, but Fitzpatrick took a coverage sack and his bomb down the right sideline to Ocho Cinco got knocked away at the last instant by safety Reggie Nelson coming over to help Mathis after The Ocho sped by him again.
PREGAME NOTES: Bengals wide receiver Chad Ocho Cinco is up for his 112th straight game Sunday. He was in the starting lineup against the Jaguars after being limited in practice with a foot ailment Friday.
Also active for the Bengals were two safeties they took off the street this week in John Busing and Chris Crocker. With Dexter Jackson (hamstring) placed on season-ending injured reserve Thursday, Chinedum Ndukwe moved over from free safety into his spot at strong and Marvin White came off the bench again to play free.
Inactive for the Bengals were cornerback Geoff Pope, tight end Nate Lawrie, center Andrew Crummy,defensive tackles Orien Harris and Jason Shirley, and rookie wide receivers Andre Caldwell and Jerome Simpson. Both Caldwell and Simpson were in boots last week, Caldwell with a foot stress fracture and Simpson with an ankle injury.
Head coach Marvin Lewis unveiled the orange jerseys, a color in which the Bengals are 7-1. They are 3-0 wearing orange with the black pants and 4-1 with the white pants, which they were wearing Sunday. Lewis introduced the defense as a unit after two weeks it has allowed 73 points. Wide receiver/punt returner Antonio Chatman was the special teams captain and lost the toss as the Jags chose to receive the opening kick.
Special teams could be key. Jacksonville is coming off a game they had a field goal blocked and kick return fumbled. The Jags responded by putting in a new returner, running back Maurice Jones-Drew.