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Saturday, August 19, 2006

Bengals Top Bills 44-31; Chad Johnson Celebrates...Almost

Bengals roll to 44-31 win over Bills

NFL.com wire reports

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (Aug. 18, 2006) -- Shortly after the game was over, Chad Johnson announced in the Bengals locker room the Buffalo Bills couldn't stop him.

The NFL officials, well, that's another story.

Johnson, the always colorful receiver, scored his first touchdown this preseason in Cincinnati's 44-31 win over the Bills. Yet there was one thing missing: the touchdown dance.

Johnson's bid to do something -- anything, without drawing a flag that would hurt his team -- was denied by an official under the NFL's new rules severely limiting post-TD celebrations. He pleaded with the ref immediately after his 9-yard catch, even offering to pay his fine for keeping the flag in his pocket.

Keiwan Ratliff and the Bengals defense pestered the Bills offense all evening.
"I was asking him to let me celebrate, that's what that was, I'm sure you guys knew that," Johnson said. "But he told me not to. 'Get off the field.' Just like that."

It didn't matter much: There was enough high-scoring entertainment to keep most fans interested in a mean-nothing game.

Johnson, sporting his new golden mohawk haircut, had five catches for 73 yards in less than a half of playing time, helping Cincinnati (2-0) produce the third-most points in a preseason game in team history -- and most since a 45-0 win over Tampa Bay in 1977.

The Bengals defense did the rest, forcing four turnovers in the first half, returning two of them for touchdowns on Dexter Jackson 's 72-yard fumble return and Keiwan Ratliff 's 26-yard interception return.

"Tonight was a fine example of people running to the ball and trying to make plays," Jackson said. "We're not where we need to be, but we're on that road."

The Bills (0-2), coming off a 14-13 loss at Carolina last weekend, had a mixed outing. The 44 points they allowed is the fifth-most by a Bills team in preseason, and most since a 45-14 loss at Chicago in 1985.

The bright spot for Buffalo was Willis McGahee, who had nine rushes for 88 yards, including an electrifying 61-yard touchdown run on a power sweep to the left. It was an impressive glimpse of a player who arrived at training camp 15 pounds lighter and eager to erase what had been a disappointing season last year.

"It felt real good man, like the monkey off my back," said McGahee, who was limited to five touchdowns rushing last season after scoring 13 in 2004. "I think we took a step forward."

The same cannot be said of J.P. Losman, who had an up-and-down outing in his first preseason start after coach Dick Jauron named him the front-runner for the No. 1 job this week.

Losman finished 7 of 11 for 134 yards passing, but lost two fumbles and an interception, leading to 13 Bengals points. His worst pass was a quick out intended for Josh Reed, which was intercepted by Ratliff, who jumped the route with 6 minutes left in the second quarter.

Losman responded on the next possession, hitting Lee Evans in stride up the right sideline for a 46-yard touchdown.

"It was unacceptable," Losman said. "There was some good and some bad. I think the bad is very correctible."

"He's got to protect the football," Jauron said. "We've got to be forcibly patient. We've seen him perform. He's got a strong arm. ... Sometimes, he holds the ball too long. But we'll just keep working and moving forward."

Losman, the second of Buffalo's two 2004 first-round picks, has been locked in an offseason-long competition for the starting job with journeyman Kelly Holcomb and Craig Nall.

The Bengals have quarterback questions of their own, specifically who will be the No. 2 behind Carson Palmer. Anthony Wright continued to show signs of improvement in making his second preseason start.

Wright finished 9 of 19 for 99 yards and a touchdown in the first half, which ended with the Bengals ahead 27-17.

Third-stringer Doug Johnson went 8 of 14 for 133 yards and a touchdown, and also scored on a 4-yard bootleg while playing the entire second half.

Notes: When Johnson didn't celebrate, Bengals OG Bobbie Williams wondered if the receiver was saving it for the regular season. Informed the official stopped Johnson, Williams laughed, and said: "Well, at least he's listening now." ... Bills CB Eric King left the game because of back spasms. CB Troy Vincent was held out because of a strained hamstring. ... Bengals OT Willie Anderson was held out because of a hamstring injury.


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