No one can call these Bengals the worst ever.
Ryan Fitzpatrick threw a pair of touchdown passes to Chad Johnson, who celebrated the second one by giving the head coach a kiss, and Cincinnati stopped a late two-point conversion try Sunday, preserving a 21-19 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
At 1-8, the Bengals are no longer on pace to be historically bad. They were too much for the stunned Jaguars (3-5), who fell behind 21-3 before making it close.
Montell Owens returned a fumble 18 yards for a fourth-quarter touchdown, and David Garrard led a late drive that culminated in Maurice Jones-Drew's 1-yard run with 1:17 to go. Garrard failed to squeeze a pass into double-covered Jerry Porter on the conversion try.
The 64,238 fans raised their arms in celebration of an unexpected win. The Bengals were coming off the most lopsided back-to-back losses in franchise history. One more would have left them 0-9 for only the second time in team history.
Now, the futility flashbacks can end.
Fitzpatrick, who studied the laws of economics at Harvard, helped the law of averages catch up with his winless team. The scrambling quarterback looked a lot more comfortable in his fourth straight start for the injured Carson Palmer, going 21-of-31 for 162 yards. Cedric Benson had Cincinnati's first 100-yard rushing game, finishing at 104.
Fitzpatrick gave the Bengals a dash of hope on the opening drive, completing seven of eight passes and breaking loose on a pair of long scrambles. Johnson made a diving 2-yard catch in the corner of the end zone, then ran down the sideline with both arms outstretched in wonder.
It was a wonder: Cincinnati's first touchdown on offense in the first quarter all season.
After his 10-yard touchdown catch made it 14-0, Johnson flipped the ball to the official, went to the sideline and gave coach Marvin Lewis a peck on the cheek, the second time he's done that this season.
Bengals receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh sounded a little cheeky when he insisted a few days earlier that there was no way the Bengals would lose 'em all this season. They got that first win by pushing around a team that has played 'em all close this season. Jacksonville is the only team in the NFL with all of its games decided by seven points or less.
The Jaguars again had major problems trying to run the ball behind a patched-up line. Garrard threw his first interception in five games, breaking a streak of 166 passes without one. That rare, poor throw set up a touchdown that put the Bengals ahead 21-3.
Frustration boiled over as the Bengals pulled ahead. Jaguars defensive tackle John Henderson and Bengals offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth were ejected for trading blows while blocking each other on a pass play.