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Grounded Bengal Leads Air Attack

Sunday, December 19, 2004; Page E09

[Buffalo at Cincinnati,

1 p.m.]

BREAKDOWN

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1

Teams that have made the playoffs after starting 0-2 since 1990 (the 1992 Chargers). Buffalo could be the second.

1,435

Yards the Bengals have gained in the past three games combined, the most in the league over that stretch.

Bengals quarterback Jon Kitna, who will start today in place of the injured Carson Palmer (sprained knee), is the rarest of breeds as far as athletes are concerned. Namely, he's a humble backup -- or at least he was.

Now he's a humble starter.

"When you're given a role, you do your role," he said this week. "People in this league gripe and moan when they don't agree with their situation. Griping and moaning isn't the way to handle it. You work harder and get ready for when your time does come."

And, though Palmer is the Bengals' quarterback of the future and Kitna's contract expires after next season, Kitna doesn't seem like he wants to leave Cincinnati, even though his stats from last season (third in the league in touchdown passes and seventh in passing yards) would lead to a sizable contract elsewhere.

"My family loves it here," Kitna said. "There's a lot more involved than just playing football. Being a starter somewhere may not always be the best thing for my family."


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