C.D. wars on records

BY GEOFF HOBSON

David Levine, one of Corey Dillon's new agents, was in town Sunday to watch his client take another run through the NFL record book.

Dillon, a free agent after the season, told skeptical reporters after the Bengals' 48-28 loss to the Steelers that he would, "love to stay," if a deal could be completed.

But indications are there have been no talks with Levine and the club as the meter ticks. Dillon became the eighth man in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards in his first four seasons Sunday when he rushed for 128 yards on 23 carries.

The man they call "C.D.," now has 1,062 yards for the year, 178 yards from James Brooks' club record of 1,239 in 1989.

Why not? On Sunday he tied Brooks' club record of 17 career 100-yard games.

Why not? This season Dillon broke Walter Payton's NFL record of 278 yards in a game on the way to racking up the third most yards ever in back-to-back games with 415.

"I'd trade it all for a win," Dillon said. "The Lord has blessed me and if I keep going out working hard for Him, things like this are going to happen."

A week after Jacksonville running back Fred Taylor shredded Pittsburgh for 234 yards on 30 carries, Dillon ripped off a 20-yard touchdown run down the left sideline to give the Bengals a 14-14 tie early in the second quarter.

In Steelerand, word is the Pittsburgh staff dreaded Dillon more than Taylor because Dillon keeps coming at you no matter the score or the previous play and he proved it on the first series of the second half.

With Pittsburgh leading, 24-14, Dillon pounded out 31 yards on seven carries, the last four coming on a touchdown that pulled Cincinnati
within 24-21.

At that point, Dillon had 113 yards on 16 carries. But the score (the Steelers jacked the lead to 10 again three minutes later) and the Pittsburgh defense caught up to him.

On his last seven carries, Pittsburgh held Dillon to 15 yards.

Taylor had destroyed Pittsburgh by going outside and then cutting back in. The Bengals responded by stretching their running plays wider than usual, and Dillon had some success cutting back.

But, "I'm pretty sure the film of Jacksonville saw them getting creased on the cutbacks," Dillon said. "They had a linebacker who was kind of slow flowing on the back side to eliminate the cutbacks. They game planned it, but we went out and executed."

Dillon said the Bengals keyed off old friend Kimo von Oelhoffen, the former Bengal now the Steelers' nose tackle.

"Whatever way he was tilted," Dillon said. "If he was tilted in the inside, it was going to stay onside. If he was tilted onside, they had a tendency to cut back. We were just taking advantage of the opportunities."

But when the Steelers got up 10 with 6:16 left in the third quarter, the running game was doomed.

"Once they were up, they were bringing their dogs," Dillon said. "There's nothing much I could do about it. They were bringing their safeties up and everything."

Footnote: Steeler running back Jerome Bettis also got his 1,000 yards Sunday for the seventh time in his career. He didn't get his ninth 100-yard game against the Bengals, but his 93 yards on Dillon's 23 carries gave him 1,019 yards. Bettis seemed to understand Dillon has 43 more yards than him on 34 fewer carries.

"He's a great running back," Bettis said of Dillon. "He does a great job in that situation. Their passing game is similar to ours in that it is not producing a lot of yardage."

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