Monday, September 22, 2003

Notes: Johnson sits briefly, then makes impact

Receiver disciplined for tardiness

By Mark Curnutte and Neil Schmidt
The Cincinnati Enquirer


Photos of Sunday's game
Bengals wide receiver Chad Johnson did not start in the 17-10 loss to Pittsburgh because of a disciplinary reason, team officials said Sunday.

Rookie free agent Lawrence Hamilton started in Johnson's place. Johnson was late for Saturday night's team meeting at a local hotel, where coach Marvin Lewis keeps his players the night before home games.

"Chad didn't start because of a decision that was made by the team and myself," Lewis said after the loss when asked about Johnson. Johnson declined to comment on the decision.

Johnson sat out the first four plays and entered on play No. 5. On the sixth play, Johnson caught a 31-yard pass from Jon Kitna. Johnson had four receptions for 77 yards. He has 18 for 303 through three games.

BUS RETURNS: Jerome Bettis ranks second to Emmitt Smith on the NFL's active rushing list, with 11,622 yards through Sunday. But last season was the least productive of his career (666 yards), and this summer he lost the starting tailback spot to Amos Zereoue.

Yet it seemed like old times for "The Bus" when he entered the game late in the third quarter and bulled his way for the last 23 yards of a Pittsburgh scoring drive. Bettis finished with 59 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries, an increased workload after totaling just eight carries for 21 yards through the first two games.

Zereoue totaled 69 yards on 16 carries. All but one of his carries came before Bettis entered the game. Steelers coach Bill Cowher said he liked the idea of relieving Zereoue with Bettis after Pittsburgh builds a lead.

"I hope it unfolds like that every week," Cowher said. "(Bettis) came in and gave us a lift."

Bettis wore a grand smile as he left the field, drawing the loudest cheers from the Steeler fans in attendance. But he stopped short of saying he was happy with his reduced role.

"As a football player, you yearn to (run) the ball more," he said. "But you have to understand the situation and deal with it. When you get the opportunities, you've gotta take advantage of it."

In 15 games against Cincinnati, Bettis has rushed for 1,525 yards (4.4 avg.) and 12 TDs.

BIG CROWD: The Bengals set a home attendance record Sunday with a crowd of 64,596. The previous high was 64,217 on Oct. 14, 2001 against the Browns.

The sellout was the second of the season and 10th in 26 home games.

LOST AT HALF: Bengals tailback Corey Dillon (left groin) and tight end Matt Schobel (left hamstring) did not return in the second half. Dillon finished with 26 yards rushing on seven carries. In the first three games, Dillon has rushed 40 times for 144 yards. Schobel had one catch for 8 yards.

COWHER POWER: Cowher is now 17-6 against the Bengals, his most victories against any team. In defeating a team coached by Lewis, his linebackers coach from 1992-95, Cowher now is 6-4 against his former assistants. All six victories have come against Bengals coaches. Cowher had a 5-1 edge on Dick LeBeau, his former defensive backs coach and defensive coordinator.

BIGGEST HIT: As Pittsburgh marched for its final field goal, offensive guard Alan Faneca plowed into Bengals linebacker Adrian Ross hard enough that Ross' helmet popped off.

"There's not too many chances for an offensive player to get a hit like that," Faneca said. "It fired our guys up."

COSTLY TIME: The Bengals had to spend two of their second-half timeouts on offense to avoid the play clock running out. Those proved costly at the end when Cincinnati couldn't stop Pittsburgh from running out the clock.

CAPTAINS: Linebacker Brian Simmons (defense), left tackle Levi Jones (offense) and wide receiver Peter Warrick (special teams) were Sunday's captains.

INACTIVES: Bengals inactives Sunday were cornerback Dennis Weathersby, tailback Rudi Johnson, linebackers Riall Johnson and Keyon Whiteside, guard Victor Leyva, wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh and defensive end Elton Patterson.

Steelers 17, Bengals 10
Daugherty: Steelers kept game simple
Steelers-Bengals stats
Festival, football merge
RB's injury cripples Bengals on offense
Good, bad & ugly
Offense: Signs of progress disappear
Notes: Johnson sits briefly, then makes impact
LB Porter feels he's born again

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Sunday's sports section

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