Sunday, September 19, 2004

The Isolation Booth

Bengals WR Chad Johnson Vs. Dolphins CB Sam Madison

By Mark Curnutte
Enquirer staff writer

There might be more important individual confrontations in the game tonight, but none will be more entertaining than this one, in which two friends will go at it.

Madison, in his eighth year, is a four-time Pro Bowl cornerback. Johnson is in fourth season, with one Pro Bowl appearance, and is emerging as one of the league's top receivers.

"He's been able to stretch defenses over the last couple years," Madison said. "We're going to have to limit those big catches, and just give him some three- and four-yard catches and live to see another down."

Patrick Surtain, Miami's other corner, is a friend of Johnson's, too, and a Pro Bowler the past two years. Surtain, in his seventh season, is doubtful with a groin injury.

"I'm playing against two of my good friends, Pat and Sam," Johnson said. "It's almost like having two Champ Baileys, one on each side. It's just going to be fun."

Johnson and Madison have been talking trash all week.

The serious side to the friendship is if the Bengals can hit some deep balls, they open more room for Rudi Johnson to run against a strong Miami front seven.

Johnson had 99 receiving yards in the opener, including a 53-yard touchdown from Carson Palmer.

Between them, Madison (29) and Surtain (25) have 54 career interceptions.

"They're definitely the best pair of corners we're going to play all year," Palmer said.

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