Monday, September 22, 2003

RB's injury cripples Bengals on offense



By Bill Koch
The Cincinnati Enquirer

PHOTO GALLERY

Photos of Sunday's game
Is the wear and tear of six straight 1,000-yard seasons beginning to take its toll on Bengals running back Corey Dillon?

The running back was forced to leave Sunday's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers with a pulled groin muscle after a 1-yard gain with 9:22 left in the second quarter.

He did not return.

It was the second straight week that Dillon, who turns 29 on Oct. 24, was forced to leave the game with an injury. Last week, he hyper-extended his right knee after gaining 71 yards on 16 carries in the first half. He ran the ball only three times for 13 yards in the second half.

Dillon, who has rushed for more than 1,000 yards in each of his first six seasons, has 144 yards in his first three games this year, with just 40 carries.

Playing without Dillon, the Bengals' offense was severely crippled against the Steelers. "It is a significant loss, just like it was last week for us," coach Marvin Lewis said. "But when we do not have Corey, we are prepared to spread the defense out a little more and find some cracks."

Dillon gained 26 yards on his seven carries, but still led the Bengals in rushing. His backup, Brandon Bennett, carried six times for 12 yards.

"It's hard," said tackle Willie Anderson. "Brandon is playing a lot of different positions on special teams. He had a lot of duties to perform. You give credit to Brandon doing it, but it did hurt us a lot because it got to the point where we stopped running."

The Bengals rushed only 16 times.

"You just keep playing," said quarterback Jon Kitna of Dillon's absence. "Brandon's played a lot since I've been here. He's a good running back. It didn't change my mindset."

But the Steelers could afford to adjust their defense to concentrate on shutting down the Bengals' passing game.

"They played a lot more cover two than we thought they were going to, with two safeties back there," Kitna said. "They really tried to take away our passing game."




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