Welcome to the forum
Blinking CEL(check engine light) means hard misfire and engine damage can occur so best to back off throttle when that happens.
Triple check the coil packs firing order, then have someone else do it, lol.
Fuel injected engines do not have gas pedals, they have 'air pedals' now, no Jets or accelerator pump to get extra fuel from, so the "pedal" only lets in more air.
So on the throttle plate there will be a TPS(throttle position sensor), this tells the computer when to add more fuel based on Driver input, gas pedal position.
TPS is similar to a volume control or light dimmer, a variable resistor and easy to test.
Top wire will have 5volts, key on
Center wire will have .69-.99volts(under 1 volt) when throttle is closed, as you open the throttle voltage will increase steadily no jumping or dropping, at full throttle voltage should be 4.5 to 5volts
Easy to test with volt meter and a sewing pin.
Use pin to pierce the center wire
Ground volt meter and test voltage on center wire, key on engine off
Now slowly open throttle manually and watch voltage
What were the compression numbers?
Above 160psi average would be expected for the 1996 2.3l
If under 130psi average then timing belt is off.
Also check Fuel Pressure, should be 35-40psi, idling, then raise RPMs to 2,500-3,000 and hold there to see if pressure starts to gradually drop, a bad thing.
After engine is warmed up and idling, unplug the IAC(idle air control) valve, engine RPM should drop to under 600 or engine may even stall, either is good, it means no vacuum leaks, if RPMs stay above 700 then you have a vacuum leak.
There is a long shot problem that can occur on the 2.3l, the spark and fuel injector timing comes from the Crank sensor that reads a Tone Wheel on the back of the Crank pulley.
Second picture down here: 96 1996 Ford Ranger Engine Harmonic Balancer - Engine Mechanical - ATP, Dayco, Dorman, Pioneer Cables - PartsGeek
Tone wheel looks like a gear, but has 1 missing tooth, each time a tooth passes the CKP(crank position) sensor a pulse is sent to the computer, the teeth are spaced 10deg apart, when the gap(missing tooth) passes by that tells the computer that #1 piston is at top dead center, so that's how the spark and fuel injection is timed.
This tone wheel is a "press fit" on the back of the main pulley, there is no key to hold it in place and the long shot is that it has moved, I have only read about this happen one time, so long long shot.
If it has moved you would have a lack of power and also popping and backfiring as RPMs increased.
You can use an old fashion timing light to check if spark timing is correct, if it is then tone wheel is OK.