Breaking out

11-30-03, 9:15 a.m.

(Bengals wide receiver Kelley Washington breaks down his break-out game and the fallout in the weekly installment of his NFL rookie diary. Last week in the 34-27 win over the Chargers in San Diego, he had career highs with five catches, 61 yards, and a long of 30 yards that he swiped from cornerback Quentin Jammer in mid-air to set up his four-yard touchdown pass three plays later. He also made the last play of the game with a nine-yard catch over the middle on third-and-five from the Bengals 39.)

It's one of those games that if you go into a slump, or have a bad practice, you can look at that game and see yourself on top of your game. That will be a game I'll always look if I'm struggling and going through hard times on the field.

The long pass was just another play. The last play of the game was the biggest in my mind. It's probably one of the biggest catches in my whole life because it stopped them from getting the ball back. Everybody is looking at it. Our guys, the opposing team, the crowd.

They were blitzing and the cornerback, another rookie, Sammy Davis, was one-on-one with me. He came inside me and interfered with me before I even caught it. That felt good to be able to make a play like that in that situation and getting hit before I even caught it. I feel like I'm strong enough to make that kind of play.

It's a matter of getting opportunities. They're scripting plays for me, and last week we wanted to take advantage of our experience with Chad Johnson and Peter Warrick at receiver against their young

DBs. We spread it out a lot, so I was in there with Chad and Peter, and we were almost no-huddle at times using their experience against their youth. I was out there a lot, about 30 snaps, and we ran 85 plays. It's a matter of getting chances. I take pride in the fact I know my role and that I'm not the No. 1 or No. 2 receiver, but I can still make big plays when needed. I think the coaches see that and appreciate it.

It seemed like I heard from everybody last week. Family members back home in Virginia. Old teammates, coaches, friends from where I live in Florida. And just people I haven't heard from in a long time, but they saw the game or heard about it. I didn't hear from any of the guys I played with in the minors with the Marlins. They're probably still celebrating.

I've been out of the house since I was 17, so spending Thanksgiving away was no big deal. I called my family to make sure they were OK on the holiday. With my roommate, another rookie receiver, Lawrence Hamilton, we had friends come over and cook a meal at our apartment in Crestview Hills, Ky., and just hung out for the day.

Fox called me and they want me to go out to Los Angeles this next week to do my touchdown dance, "The Squirrel,"' on TV on "The Best Damn Sports Show." I'll fly out late Monday and do it on our day off, Tuesday, and fly back Tuesday night. I don't think that will be a problem. It will be good to get away. I can relax and sleep on the plane.

I think it's going to air Tuesday night. Ray Lewis, the Ravens middle linebacker, can't make it out there, but he's going to do a sound bite. I'm going to do the dance on TV and he's going to talk about it since I've got a little mix of his pre-game dance. That should be pretty funny and it's just going to start a big week because we play them next.

Like I've said, I like to be exciting and people like it when you score I think it just adds some fun to the game. I think the offensive line loves it. After I score, they come around me and kind of form a circle and push people away so they don't get in the way and I can do it.

I looked at it on tape and guys like Rich Braham, our center, they were laughing and having fun, and that's great to see. It's not about everyone looking at me. Whenever I make a big play, or score, I always pat the linemen or thank them. I'm thankful for them to be able to do the dance.

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