Cincinnati Coach Sam Wyche, his quarterback Boomer Esiason and the Houston Oilers seem to have different definitions of the term "running up the score."
Last season, Cincinnati routed Houston 61-7, after which Wyche expressed his dislike for former Oilers Coach Jerry Glanville.Leading 45-0, Wyche called an onsides kick that his team recovered. With 25 seconds left and a 58-7 lead, he called time out to set up a 30-yard field goal.
Wyche then called Glanville the "biggest phony in professional football" and a "liar." He called the Oilers "the dumbest football team, the most stupid, undisciplined team we've ever played. I wish this had been a five-quarter game, we would love to have jumped into that triple-digit thing."
But this week, Wyche denied running up the score.
"We didn't try to run the score up on them," Wyche said. "I took Boomer out after nine plays in the second half. We didn't play any starting running backs in the second half. We took every defensive player out that we could after the first series of the second half. We played everybody in the game and when you put in a reserve player, he's going to play the best he can because that's his chance to show the coaches he's a good player, too.
"There's no such thing in the NFL as running the score up. That's just a nice little byline for you guys to write about. People in our business understand that's not the case."
Esiason was asked if Cincinnati ran up the score.
"Well, I think think any time you call time out with 58 points on the board . . ." he said. "What's even lost in that thing was that Jerry called time out to try to ice the kicker."
And what about Houston?
"If that wasn't running up the score, I don't know what is," Oilers running back Allen Pinkett said. "It's obvious we didn't have a good game and if they wanted to run it up, that's their business."
The two teams play Sunday in Houston (the game was switched from Riverfront Stadium because the Cincinnati Reds made the baseball playoffs). Glanville is gone, but most of the players are back and the rout has not been forgotten.
"They'll probably use last year as a revenge factor," said Esiason, whose Bengals, 4-1, lead the 2-3 Oilers by two games in the AFC Central. "But this is the NFL and it's almost impossible to intimidate anybody. But I would have been upset as hell."
Esiason disagreed with Wyche's decision last season, and called Houston quarterback Warren Moon "to explain our situation."
"I never like to embarrass any particular players," Esiason said. "I think we were trying to take it out on their coach. I wanted him (Moon) to know how I personally felt and . . . some of us that have been in league a few years were embarrassed by the way this team reacted after that game.
"I don't think we handled it in a very dignified way. I think when you do have a problem with somebody, it's best left unsaid and let your playing do the talking."
Houston, which has already lost to Cleveland, needs a win to tighten the division race. The other AFC Central teams, Cleveland and Pittsburgh, are also 2-3 and looking to keep the Bengals from getting too far in front.
Cleveland plays at New Orleans Sunday. The Browns are coming off a Monday night comeback victory in Denver in which Bernie Kosar threw for three touchdowns.
Cleveland has added depth to their backfield, acquiring Brent Fullwood from Green Bay. He will back up Kevin Mack and Leroy Hoard, adding further ammunition to the "big-back attack" Carson loves.
Pittsburgh plays at Denver, a week after scoring its first offensive touchdowns of the season last week against San Diego. The Steelers secondary is riddled with injuries and that could make for a big passing day for John Elway.