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Already September to remember

Posted: 9:15 p.m.



1. If there ever had been any doubt about Marvin Lewis' ability to get a team ready and healthy for the start of the regular season, they were buried on a night two of his legacies met in a 60-minute nutcracker drill.

Lewis' tough-minded, fast and physical approach that molded the Ravens defense and sprung the Bengals' resurgence collided Monday night when the Bengals refused to let the Ravens intimidate with their usual brew of swagger and speed in the 15-round TKO of Baltimore by 27-20.

Even with as many as twentysomething players scratched from preseason games because of injury, Lewis kept his hard-driving philosophy even as some wondered if it was wearing down his team. Up until even the last practice 72 hours before the game, Lewis kept the team on the field about 20 minutes longer than expected.

By the time the dust cleared, only two starters weren't available to start (strong-side linebacker Rashad Jeanty and cornerback Johnathan Joseph) and then right tackle Willie Anderson had to leave for good in the second quarter.

But the decision to keep the offensive line intact in Anderson's absence by keeping Scott Kooistra there instead of making two moves by switching left guard Stacy Andrews paid off Monday against the league's most Ravenous pass rush.

And in what had to be the most physical game in Lewis' five seasons was a tribute to the strength and training staffs. From wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh's knee that took him out of a few practices this week to the groin and hamstring problems suffered by fullback Jeremi Johnson that took him out of the spring and training camp, people got them ready.

And now the Bengals have won seven straight September games dating back to the 2005 opener in Cleveland, this Sunday's destination. That's the longest September streak in club history, going beyond the five in a row put together by the 1989-90 teams.

Lewis' record in five Septembers is 9-5. In the previous five Septembers, the Bengals were 3-13.



2. Chad Johnson's touchdown celebration donning the "Future H O F 20??" blazer gets you thinking about his chances of election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The numbers are certainly going to be there.

If Johnson continues to average the annual 1,358 yards on balls from Carson Palmer the last three seasons, he'll finish his current Bengals contract in 2011 with 13,717. Which would be sixth place on today's all-time NFL list.

That would be in his 11th season and only Jerry Rice with more than 15,000 would have more receiving yards than Johnson in his first 11 seasons. The Colts' Marvin Harrison just finished his 11th season with 13,697.

Of those theoretically ahead of Johnson on the list (Rice - 22,895, Tim Brown - 14,934, James Lofton - 14,004, Cris Carter -13,899, Henry Ellard - 13,777) , Lofton is already in, Rice and Tim Brown are locks and probably Carter, too, because he and Rice are the only guys with 1,000 catches. Ellard won't make it.

So statistically Johnson should be in the yard, but so are former Bengals Ken Anderson and Ken Riley, and they haven't even come close to the Hall.

Small market isn't what it was even five years ago, and Ocho certainly isn't playing in obscurity. But unless you've got unbelievable numbers, the only way to assure election is to get a Super Bowl ring.



3. Bengals defensive end Robert Geathers did more than hit for the cycle Monday. It was almost like winning the Triple Crown in three-and-a-half quarters.

That's the time it took him to register at least one interception, one sack, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery to log an entry in every column on the defensive stat sheet. Sacks and interceptions also count as tackles and passes defensed, respectively.

Last year, no Bengal did that after the five years from 2001-05 only one player accomplished it each year. Free safety Darryl Williams did it in '01, cornerback Artrell Hawkins in 2002, linebacker Brian Simmons in 2003 and 2004 and defensive tackle John Thornton in 2005.

All told in club history it's been done 36 times by 28 players with the leaders doing it four times. Linebacker Reggie Williams (1977-79 and 1981) and Darryl Williams in 1992-94 and '01.

Now Geathers doesn't even take a full game to do it.



4 Rudi Johnson isn't known for fumbling the ball, making Monday night's bobble with less than five minutes left even more stunning. The man who has carried the ball more than any other back the previous three seasons in the NFL has fumbled it just 12 times since 2004 despite 1,121 touches.

And six of those came last season. In 2005, he fumbled just once out of 360 touches.

"I'm not sure what happened. It was a good run and (nose tackle Haloti Ngata) got me from behind," Johnson said of his second-effort four-yard burst.

Now that it's Cleveland week, Johnson becomes a hot topic. In four games against the Romeo Crennel-coached Browns, Johnson has averaged 126 yards per game on 4.7 yards per carry.



5. Thornton insisted that the Bengals knew the Ravens weren't going to be able to run in for a touchdown on the goal-line stand that spanned eight goal-to-go plays. And Thornton called on pure logic and reasoning.

"We knew the only way they would score is if something weird happened, like a push off or something like that," he said. "They only scored two touchdowns on (the defense) last year. I mean, this is how the game usually goes when we play. They score one against us, get one some other way, and get some field goals."

Since '05, the Bengals are 4-1 against the Ravens. In the one loss, last year's 26-20 game in Baltimore, the Ravens returned an interception for a touchdown, scored a conventional touchdown and got four Matt Stover field goals. In the 13-7 Bengals win three weeks later, Cincinnati held Baltimore to one touchdown, and in a 21-9 win in Baltimore in 2005 the Bengals held the Ravens out of the end zone. In the PBS game the Bengals won 42-29 in '05, Cincinnati shut out Baltimore in the first half.

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