Biakabutuka Leads Carolina Past Bengals, 27-3
By Joe Macenka
CHARLOTTE, N.C. Tshimanga Biakabutuka broke the Carolina Panthers' record Sunday for the longest run from scrimmage. Less than two hours later, he broke it again.
With the woeful Cincinnati Bengals in town, Biakabutuka bolted for a 62-yard touchdown on Carolina's first play from scrimmage, then added a 67-yard scoring run later to help the Panthers to a 27-3 victory.
Biakabutuka finished with 132 yards on eight carries, helping Carolina (1-2) win its first game under George Seifert.
Steve Beuerlein threw for 204 yards and a touchdown, and he added a crucial block on Biakabutuka's second score as the Panthers doomed Cincinnati to its third 0-3 start in seven years.
Jeff Blake started at quarterback for the Bengals even though he suffered a separated throwing shoulder one week earlier. Blake was sacked three times, knocked down numerous other times, intercepted once and appeared to have trouble on most throws longer than about 10 yards.
Cincinnati's problems weren't limited to Blake. Darnay Scott was wide open at the goal line, but dropped what would have been a 22-yard touchdown pass. Doug Pelfrey was wide left on field-goal attempts from 47 and 37 yards and hit the right upright from 30. And the Bengals were penalized eight times, including a trio of false-start infractions by guard Brian DeMarco, a five-year NFL veteran.
Making matters worse, Ki-Jana Carter, the oft-injured first overall pick in the 1995 draft, went down again, this time with a dislocated right kneecap in the first quarter. He did not return.
Corey Dillon rushed for 113 yards, but it was hardly enough to carry a Cincinnati team that has allowed 97 points this season.
The Bengals opened each of their first two games with touchdown drives, but this time they had to settle for the first of Pelfrey's errant field-goal attempts. The miss gave the Panthers the ball at their own 38.
On the first play, Biakabutuka took a handoff, headed for the right sideline, slipped free of two attempted ankle tackles and outraced the Cincinnati secondary down the sideline.
The momentum of the longest run in Carolina's five seasons seemed to spill over to the Panthers' defense, which responded with its first interception of the year. Damien Richardson picked off an underthrown pass by Blake and returned it 27 yards, setting up a 48-yard field goal by John Kasay, and the rout was on.
Pelfrey atoned for his earlier misses by hitting a 39-yarder that cut the Bengals' deficit to 13-3 just past the midway point of the third quarter, but Biakabutuka once again had a quick response.
The Panthers ran one play before Biakabutuka tried a rush around left end, only to find his path sealed. He reversed directions in the backfield and headed for the right sideline, where the defender with the best shot at him, cornerback Artrell Hawkins, was cut down by Beuerlein, clearing the way for Biakabutuka to go untouched down the sideline for the score.
© Copyright 1999 The Associated Press