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A Happy Return for Spikes

Associated Press
Monday, December 20, 2004; Page D10



CINCINNATI, Dec. 19 -- Takeo Spikes waited seven years to play a meaningful game in December. Finally given the chance, he made sure it counted.

Buffalo's Takeo Spikes has a ball against his former team, including an interception return for a touchdown. (Al Behrman -- The Washington Post)

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Spikes returned an interception 62 yards for a pivotal touchdown against his former team, and the Buffalo Bills turned another dominating defensive performance into a 33-17 victory over the host Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.

Buffalo's offense didn't have to do much -- Drew Bledsoe threw for 183 yards -- but the Bills (8-6) bolstered their playoff chances with a solid all-around performance.

"I've never been in a position this late in December to have something to play for other than pride," said Spikes, who spent his first five seasons in Cincinnati. "That's very big to me. I care about coming back home to where it first started, but at the same time, the playoffs outweigh this far more than anything else."

Jason Peters blocked a punt and recovered the ball in the end zone for a score, and the defense turned Jon Kitna's latest comeback into a bad flashback.

Kitna, filling in for the injured Carson Palmer, threw two interceptions and fumbled a snap, dooming the Bengals (6-8) to their 14th consecutive season without a winning record -- one of the longest streaks of futility in NFL history.

Since the All-America Football Conference merged with the NFL for the 1950 season, only one team has a longer streak of futility than the Bengals. New Orleans failed to post a winning record in its first 20 seasons. Cincinnati and Tampa Bay are tied for the second-longest streak at 14 years.

"It means we're not as far along as I hoped we would be," said Coach Marvin Lewis, in his second year. "We got off to a good start and then let them back in, and then we imploded from there."

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