Dillon-less Bengals beat Seattle

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 27, 2003

CINCINNATI - The running back made a shoulder fake and bolted for the end zone. As the Bengals celebrated, Paul Brown Stadium filled with a chant of ''Rudi! Rudi! Rudi!''

Listening, Corey?

Disgruntled running back Corey Dillon wasn't even at the stadium - a pregame traffic accident forced him to sit this one out - as his team pulled off a reputation-changing win Sunday.

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Rudi Johnson ran for 101 yards and Jon Kitna threw two touchdown passes for a 27-24 victory over the Seattle Seahawks, the most impressive win yet by a team trying to outrun 12 years of misery.

''They aren't worried about 12 years,'' first-year coach Marvin Lewis said. ''They are worried about this year.''

With their first set of back-to-back wins since 2001, the Bengals (3-4) have moved into the unfamiliar role of contender in the weak AFC North, one game behind first-place Baltimore.

''The one thing that is often overlooked is confidence,'' said linebacker Brian Simmons, who intercepted one pass and deflected another. ''Right now, this team is playing with a great amount of confidence.''

The Seahawks (5-2) came in riding the momentum of the best start in franchise history. They got rolling at the outset, and had 266 yards by halftime.

They just couldn't shake the Bengals, who stayed with them by taking advantage of Johnson's big game and one decisive play by Kitna.

''Dillon was inactive and sometimes everyone takes a deep breath and goes, 'Oh, good, he's not playing,''' Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren said. ''And then all of a sudden you've got a guy in there that's pretty good. He was pretty efficient running the ball. That was the thing that surprised me the most.''

The biggest surprise came early in the fourth quarter. Seattle blitzed and Kitna nearly lost the ball as he threw quickly and his arm bumped running back Brandon Bennett.

The ugly pass fell to Chad Johnson, who beat Willie Williams on a slant and completed a 53-yard touchdown play for a 27-24 lead.

It was the type of play that would have turned into a disaster for the Bengals in years past.

''All I can say about that is that it was a huge blessing,'' Kitna said. ''First of all, they had an unblocked guy. Second of all, as I take the ball back, it hits Brandon and I am fumbling the ball. So they should have gotten a sack, and it could have been a fumble.

''I'm fumbling around and I don't end up getting the laces. I just see Chad and I end up shot-putting the ball out there.''

The Seahawks had two chances to pull off yet another fourth-quarter comeback, but two of Matt Hasselbeck's passes were tipped and intercepted, thwarting drives.

Hasselbeck was 26-of-43 for 347 yards, but was intercepted three times. The Seahawks also had a costly fumble and had a field goal blocked.

''You kind of knew we were supposed to come in here and take care of business,'' said tight end Itula Mili, who had two touchdown catches. ''We didn't get that done. We didn't take care of the little things. They really capitalized on the fact we didn't. We feel like we let something slip away here today.''

Notes: Seahawks LB Chad Brown (foot) and DT Norman Hand (turf toe) didn't play. LB Randall Godfrey left the game with a strained neck. … Cincinnati has already surpassed its victory total from last year, when it went 2-14. … Rudi Johnson became the first Bengal other than Dillon to rush for 100 yards since Ki-Jana Carter in 1997. … Dillon wasn't hurt in the accident on the way to the stadium, but was shaken up and couldn't get there on time, prompting the Bengals to make him one of their inactive players.