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Bengals can’t seem to find end zone

The Associated Press

For the past two preseason games, the Atlanta Falcons and the Cincinnati Bengals have lost their way on offense, backing up and bogging down more often than not.

Friday, September 03, 1999

For the past two preseason games, the Atlanta Falcons and the Cincinnati Bengals have lost their way on offense, backing up and bogging down more often than not. They get one final chance tonight to start moving in the right direction.

”There’s a real big urgency to get something going and score some points and get that feeling that hey, we can get into the end zone, and not go into the Tennessee game shellshocked,” Bengals offensive tackle Willie Anderson said Thursday.

Both teams have crawled into a shell offensively in the last two weeks. The Falcons (1-2) have scored nine points; the Bengals (0-3) have had one field goal over the same two-game span.

Neither Bengals coach Bruce Coslet nor Atlanta’s Dan Reeves wants to start the season with a self-doubting offense. How long they go with their No. 1 units tonight will depend upon how they do.

The Falcons had five turnovers in a 17-3 loss in Tennessee last week. Quarterback Chris Chandler aggravated a sore hamstring during pregame warmups and didn’t play.

He’ll play at least the first half against a Bengals secondary that’s been slowed by injuries and beaten regularly in the preseason. Reeves wants to make sure he’s ready for their opener against Minnesota.

”He’s coming along fine,” Reeves said. ”If it had been a regular-season game, he probably would have played last week.”

Coslet also is going to see how things go before he decides to rest quarterback Jeff Blake and the rest of his starters. The Bengals had 30 net yards passing last week in a 30-3 loss to Buffalo.

That’s right: 30 net yards passing for an entire game.

”The defense I’d like to take out early,” Coslet said. ”We’ve got to get going on offense. We have to.”

The Bengals would like to think that they’d have put up more points if they hadn’t rested running back Corey Dillon and receiver Darnay Scott so much because of injuries. They’ve also been conservative in calling plays.

”I haven’t thrown the ball deep in two weeks,” Blake said. ”When I do that in a game, it puts the defense back and we go right down the field.

”I know what this offense is capable of. We’ve always scored poiues to feel good. Fatigue is a bit of an issue, but that’s normal.”

”Calloway is ahead of where I thought he would be,” Reeves said.

The Bengals are already behind on what they’d hoped would be a turnaround season. They need a victory tonight to avoid only the second winless preseason in franchise history – they were 0-4 in 1983.

Cincinnati also finished last year’s preseason against Atlanta – and lost 17-0. The Bengals have never been shut out twice in one preseason.

This would be a bad time to have it happen.

”There’s a real urgency,” Anderson repeated. ”Everybody knows that.”