American Football: Steelers sunk by O'Donnell

NEIL O'DONNELL might be advised to steer clear of Pittsburgh for the foreseeable future. The Cincinnati Bengals quarterback led his side to an upset over his former team, the Steelers, scoring a touchdown with 20 seconds remaining to give the Bengals an unexpected 25-20 victory.

O'Donnell is not remembered with any great affection in Pittsburgh. In 1995, he led the Steelers to the Super Bowl, but his two interceptions against the Dallas Cowboys cost his side the game. He joined the New York Jets shortly afterwards, arriving in Cincinnati for this campaign. Now he has returned to torment his one-time team-mates.

Trailing by five points with less than two minutes remaining, the Bengals' cause looked hopeless. However, O'Donnell threw a 50-yard pass to Carl Pickens, and the pair connected again over 25 yards to seal the upset. "It's been a long week, and a lot of things have been brought up," he said. "My leaving Pittsburgh, it seemed everyone wanted to talk about that. I just tried to stay focused."

Focus was also high on the agenda for Dan Reeves, head coach of the Atlanta Falcons. He was fired by the New York Giants two seasons ago, but the Falcons made sure his return to the Big Apple was a happy one, cutting the Giants down to size thanks to Chris Chandler, who orchestrated a 34- 20 victory.

Under Reeves, who took the Denver Broncos to three Super Bowls, the Falcons have won 11 of their last 13 games and a place in the play-offs is within their grasp.

The Buffalo Bills enjoyed their second victory in a row, but while their defeat of the Indianapolis Colts was not a surprise, the source of their inspiration was definitely unexpected.

Doug Flutie, who enjoyed a glittering collegiate career but who was deemed, at 5ft 9in, to be too small for the NFL, has spent the last eight seasons playing in Canada. It was to general consternation that the Bills decided to bring the 35-year-old back across the border. The move yielded a dividend when Buffalo's starting quarterback, Rob Johnson, left the game with a rib injury. With his team trailing by nine points, Flutie went to work, touchdown passes to Jay Riemersma and Kevin Williams ensuring a 31-24 triumph.

Elsewhere, the Denver Broncos maintained their perfect start to the season, but were pushed to the limit by the Seattle Seahawks. The Broncos were indebted to running back, Terrell Davis, who gained 208 yards and scored the decisive touchdown in the 21-16 win.

Meanwhile, the Carolina Panthers and the Washington Redskins are still in search of their first victories. The Panthers were valiant in defeat against the Dallas Cowboys, while the Redskins went down 17-12 to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Results and standings, Digest, page 27

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