John Leypoldt kicked a 27-yard field goal that hit the left upright and bounced through the goal post on the final play of the game yesterday to lift the New Orleans Saints to a 20-18 victory over the winless Cincinnati Bengals.

The Saints, trailing 18-17, called their final timeout with three seconds left to set up Leypoldt's do-or-die field goal attempt. Leypoldt's kick glanced off the side of the left upright and barely bounced over for the deciding points.

The Saints, trailing 18-10 in the final quarter, began their rally when Mike Strachan scored his second five-yard scoring run with 5:25 to play.

Then, down just 18-17, New Orleans began its game-winning drive on the Cincinnati 49 with 2:14 to play.

Saint's quarterback Archie Manning, who hit 14 of 25 passes for 208 yards methodically brought his team into field goal range and then took a calculated risk by permitting the clock to run down to just three seconds before calling time for Leypoldt's field goal try.

New Orleans, which evened its record at 2.2, bounced back early in thesecond period with a 93-yard drive, highlighted by passes of 33 and 30 yards by Manning, with Strachan running the final five yards for a 7-3 lead.