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Brown mum on GM issue

10-7-02, 6:10 a.m.


Bengals President Mike Brown is still shaking his head Monday over Sunday's report from Terry Bradshaw of Fox that said he is interested in luring Bears coach Dick Jauron, a former Bengals defensive back, to Cincinnati as general manager. The Brown family has been in charge of football operations since Paul Brown founded the club in 1967, but on Monday Mike Brown wouldn't get into his future plans on that front.

"I'm just not going to enlarge the (Jauron) issue or discuss any of it," Brown said. "He got a rumor going and I just have no idea how he came up with it." **

BITTER REUNION:** It had to be Jeff Burris' worst nightmare. But he wasn't saying after he returned to the RCA Dome and tried to cover his friend and former teammate Marvin Harrison.

In fact, Burris said nothing in his first regular-season game in the town where he played the previous four seasons before he signed a three-year, $4.5 million deal with Cincinnati in the offseason.

In fact, he hasn't been talking since last week's loss to Tampa Bay, in which he apparently felt the media mishandled how the Bengals blew two pass coverages for touchdowns.

But what is clear Sunday is that Harrison, the Colts Pro Bowl wide receiver, ran wild with nine catches for 145 yards Sunday with Burris trying to cover him most of the time. The killing third-and-six play conjured up memories of last week when Harrison ran uncovered down the right sideline past Burris for a 69-yard pass on the last play of the third quarter that set up the Colts' winning touchdown.

Yet Burris didn't have much help. The Bengals never came close to sacking quarterback Peyton Manning all day and rookie free safety Lamont Thompson took the blame for the 69-yarder. The only thing they got out of their poor pass rush was blitzing

cornerback Artrell Hawkins' roughing the passer penalty at the end of the big play to Harrison. Harrison also set up the Colts' first touchdown on third down, getting position on Burris down the middle for a 30-yarder on third-and-1. Burris also got nailed on a 34-yard pass interference on Harrison early in the fourth quarter, but Hawkins came up with an end-zone interception two plays later.

But Burris, the NFL Players Association representative while with both teams, had plenty of support in each locker room.

"He's one of the toughest corners that I face," Harrison said. "He doesn't have the help that a lot of other DBs have in this league. He's out there by himself."

Hawkins praised Burris for having a hand in his end-zone interception early in the fourth quarter. He said Burris tipped the pass intended for Harrison.

Thompson, who plays on passing downs, took the blame for his role in what was described as a "soft cover 2 zone," on the 69-yarder.

"I just didn't get over where he was at," Thompson said. "It's a play I should and can make. I had to get over to where No. 1 was because he was running a vertical (route). I settled (in the middle) but I had two verticals pressing me."

The Bengals did a superb job playing the run and icing Colts running back Edgerrin James. They held him to 60 yards on 22 carries and broke his home streak of 10 straight 100-yard games. He also had just three catches for 10 yards, but it may have come at a price as Manning's lethal play-action passes kept the rush at bay even when they blitzed.

"When they are playing the run," Manning said, "it's nice to be able to throw deep and mix in some play action."

On the 69-yarder, the Bengals were in their "nickel blitz," in which Hawkins is rushing: "I shook down Edgerrin James pretty good and it was another second or two and I would have sacked him. When he got set to throw, I jumped up and tried to swat it and my hands hit him on the helmet as I came down and they got me for roughing."

It's been a tough two weeks for the secondary after they gave up three touchdown passes of at least 22 yards last week against Tampa Bay. Hawkins' interception marked the first one by a defensive back all season.

"To me, that was the deciding factor in the game," said middle linebacker Brian Simmons. "We aren't good enough to have those kind of breakdowns. We have to be 100 percent. We did the same thing last week. We can't keep giving up 60-yard plays."

The Bengals shackled James without Simmons for more than half the game. Adrian Ross came off the bench when Simmons hurt his neck in the second quarter and played well. The Bengals are hoping Simmons doesn't have a pinched nerve when he takes a MRI Monday.

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