Dillon Runs Wild, Bengals Win

Bengals running back Corey Dillon (28) pushes away Denver Broncos defender Al Wilson.
An incredulous Corey Dillon dropped to his knees, drove his facemask into the ground and prayed while jubilant teammates dumped containers of water on his back.

The icy shower and the NFL record were both quite a jolt.

Dillon ran for an NFL-record 278 yards Sunday and broke two long touchdown runs in the closing minutes that secured the Cincinnati Bengals' first win, 31-21 over the Denver Broncos.

He didn't realize he'd topped Walter Payton's single-game mark until he reached the sideline and the record was flashed on the scoreboard and announced to the crowd.

"I'm still in shock," said Dillon, who also topped Jim Brown's rookie record in 1997. "I still don't believe it. From how I was running, I didn't see that I had that many yards. I was just out there trying to get 4 yards."

Dillon's scoring runs of 65 and 41 yards in the final five minutes put him ahead of Payton, who had 275 yards against Minnesota on Nov. 20, 1977.

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  • The breakaway runs also put the final stiff-arm on the biggest rushing game by an NFL team in 50 years. The Bengals (1-6) completed only two passes none after the first quarter but set a team record by rushing for 407.

    It was the fifth-highest rushing total in league history and the most since the New York Giants churned out 423 against Baltimore in 1950. Akili Smith and Scott Mitchell were a combined 2-of-9 for 32 yards, tying the team record for fewest completions.

    "Back when I was in high school I think we had some games like that," Mitchell said. "I guess if you stay around long enough, you'll see everything. I saw something new today."

    So did the Broncos (4-4), who had the league's second-toughest run defense. No team had run for more than 123 yardthis season against a defense giving up an average of 65 per game.

    Dillon left them lunging and gasping.

    "We focused on him all week long and he still did a tremendous job," safety Billy Jenkins said. "When you let a guy set an NFL record against you, that's the epitome of embarrassment."

    Dillon repeatedly cut back and found big holes against a defense caught flat-footed by his moves. He had six runs of at least 30 yards.

    "Their defense was overpursuing in some cases and they gave me the opportunity to cut it back," Dillon said. "I just tried to make a big play and ended up with 278."

    Dillon already was in the NFL record book for his 246-yard effort three years ago, which broke Brown's 40-year-old rookie record. His name now tops lists featuring Brown, Payton and O.J. Simpson.

    "They did their thing. I'm not even in their league right now," Dillon said. "I'm just out here hopefully when all is said and done trying to get into the Hall of Fame and join them."

    Peter Warrick also tore off a 77-yard touchdown run, the longest ever by a receiver against the Broncos. Even the lumbering Mitchell ran with success, chugging 9 yards on a third-and-8 bootleg as the Bengals ran down the clock.

    "I'd say that's an embarrassing day, when you're second in the league in run defense and you allow that to happen," coach Mike Shanahan said.

    The Broncos also self-destructed with three turnovers (two fumbles and an interception) and Jason Elam was wide on a pair of 48-yard field goal attempts.

    They appeared headed for an easy afternoon after a dominating opening drive: 80 yards in 12 plays culminating in Brian Griese's 1-yard pass to a wide-open Detron Smith.

    When Mike Anderson ran 3 yards untouched for a 14-3 lead in the second quarter, fans booed and the Bengals seemed to be finished.

    "We had the mindset to get out to a lead and blow them out and embarrass them, but they killed us," said Griese, who completed 30 of 45 passes for 365 yards.

    The momentum turned on the next play from scrimmage. Warrick lined up in the slot, took a handoff going right, reversed his field and followed Smith's lead block the quarterback repeatedly shoved cornerback Terrell Buckley away for the longest run by a rookie receiver since Joey Galloway went 86 yards in 1995 against Jacksonville.

    By the second half, the Bengals had abandoned any hope of throwing. Smith left after taking a sack and coming up dizzy on the third play of the second half.

    Dillon took it from there. He ran through Buckley's attempted tackle for a 30-yard gain that set up Cincinnati's first secod-half touchdown of the season.

    In their first six games, the Bengals scored only 37 points, three in the second half. They scored four touchdowns Sunday, one more than their offense's total for the first six games.


  • Denver had won its last eight games against the Bengals, its longest active streak against any team.
  • DT Trevor Pryce, who had 6.5 sacks in the last three games, strained his right knee in the second quarter and didn't return.
  • LB Bill Romanowski started his 200th consecutive game, the league's fifth-longest active streak.
  • It was the Bengals' first win in four games under coach Dick LeBeau, who took over when Bruce Coslet quit, and their first victory in four games at Paul Brown Stadium.

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