Pete Johnson scored three touchdowns -- all after pass interceptions -- to pace the Cincinnati Bengals to a 24-10 victory today over the Los Angeles Rams.
The win was Cincinnati's fifth in its last six games, and the Bengals maintained their hold on first place in the AFC Central Division by raising their record to 8-3. Los Angeles, losing for the fourth time in its last five starts, slipped to 5-6.
"Our pass rush was great," said Cincinnati Coach Forrest Gregg. "We put a lot of pressure on them. What did we have? Was it six sacks?"
It was. The Bengals' sacks of quarterbacks Dan Pastorini and Pat Haden resulted in a total loss of 56 yards. Pastorini, sacked five times for 49 yards, was knocked unconscious by a sack in the final quarter.
"It's hard to play when you've got people injured," Los Angeles Coach Ray Malavasi said. "What will it take to turn us around? Very simple, get well."
Malavasi said Pastorini had regained consciousness quickly and should be able to play next week.
All three Johnson touchdowns came after interceptions thrown by Pastorini. Louis Breeden, who a week ago intercepted a pass and returned it 102 yards to tie the National Football League record, grabbed two of the interceptions. Breeden returned his first interception 43 yards to the Rams' six to set up Ken Anderson's three-yard touchdown pass to Johnson and give Cincinnati a 10-0 lead in the first quarter.
Breeden's second interception came at the Ram 42-yard line. Several plays later -- with the help of a holding penalty that gave Cincinnati a first and goal at the one-yard line -- Johnson scored his second touchdown of the day on a three-yard run to give the Bengals a 17-3 lead with 14:13 left.