Ken Anderson came off the bench today to throw two third-quarter touchdown passes and rally Cincinnati to a 24-21 victory over New Orleans that kept the Bengals' playoff hopes alive.
Cincinnati (7-8) trails first-place Pittsburgh (8-7) in the AFC Central Division. Cincinnati will close the regular season next week against Buffalo; the Steelers will play the Los Angeles Raiders. The Bengals would win the title if the teams finish 8-8 because of a better record within the division.
Anderson, a 14-year veteran who had not played since Nov. 11 because of a partially separated shoulder, completed 18 of 26 passes for 191 yards. He entered the game in the second quarter in relief of rookie Boomer Esiason, who threw five incompletions in six passes.
"I'm looking forward to carrying this thing into the playoffs," Anderson said. "I think we've got just as good a chance to take it all the way as anyone else in our division."
Anderson threw touchdown passes of 27 yards to running back James Brooks and 15 yards to running back Stanford Jennings. Jennings also scored the winning touchdown on a one-yard run and Jim Breech kicked a 35-yard field goal.
On his second possession, Anderson took the Bengals 63 yards to set up Breech's field goal for a 3-0 lead. The Saints (6-9) came back on the last play of the half on Dave Wilson's 54-yard pass to Hoby Brenner.
The Bengals took control in the second half, opening with a 78-yard drive that culminated in a 27-yard pass from Anderson to Brooks for a 10-7 lead.
Five minutes later, Anderson put the Bengals ahead, 17-7, with a 63-yard drive that ended with a 15-yard touchdown pass to Jennings.
New Orleans made it 17-14 on a nine-play, 80-yard drive that ended with a 35-yard pass from Wilson to Brenner with 47 seconds left in the third period.
The Bengals increased their lead to 24-14 early in the fourth quarter on a one-yard run by Jennings. Wilson cut it to 24-21 in the final minute with a five-yard scoring pass to Eugene Goodlow.