12-19-02, 12:15 a.m.
BY GEOFF HOBSON
Corey Dillon doesn't expect to make the Pro Bowl a fourth straight year when the teams are announced Thursday. Chad Johnson thinks he might have if he averaged the 92 yards receiving for a full season that he's averaged in the past 10 games.
Dillon doesn't see how Priest Holmes (1,615), Ricky Williams (1,601), and LaDainian Tomlinson (1,485) aren't the trio that goes to Hawaii for the AFC.
"I tip my hat to them. They deserve to go. It's a done deal. A lock. My numbers are what they are," said Dillon, who stands eighth in AFC rushing with 1,132. "They aren't there with the Rickys and the Priests and Tomlinsons. They're carrying the ball 30, 31 times a game. I can't compete with that. I don't get those opportunities."
With Johnson four yards shy of 1,000 yards, he and Dillon are the best arguments why the Bengals may win at least another game. No team in NFL history, pre- or post-merger, has won just one game with a 1,000-yard rusher and a 1,000-yard receiver.
It's almost just as rare for a team that wins just two. Of the 30
teams that have won just two games since the 1970 merger (the 1982 strike excluded), only the 1983 Oilers with Earl Campbell and Tim Smith had both.
And the last team to win one game with a 1,000-yard receiver happened even before the merger when Roy Jefferson did it for a rookie coach named Chuck Noll for the 1-13 Steelers in 1969.
"I might have a chance at being a reserve, but look at where I'd be if I took care of my business earlier in the first five games," Johnson said of his Pro Bowl shot. "I'd be right there with Marvin (Harrison) and T.O. (Terrell Owens). Maybe I'd even be leading. It's my own fault. I should have got myself in the lineup sooner."
Nobody can touch Harrison this year with 1,566 yards, but Johnson would be in second place in the AFC with 1,288 if he had done in the first four games what he has done in the last 10. He would also be second in the NFC, just 12 yards behind Owens.
"Next year," Johnson said, "I'll give the whole league a run for their money."
He's giving history a run right now. There have been a total of 26 teams in NFL hisory (seven since the advent of the 16-game schedule, ten since the merger and 16 before 1970) that have won just one game and only Jefferson and Homer Jones for the 1966 Giants caught 1,000 yards for them.
Dillon is also running into history if his team can't win another game. Since the merger, only Adrian Murrell has rushed for 1,000 yards for a one-winner with the 1996 Jets. And it's only happened three times ever, and once by the great Gale Sayers for the '69 Bears. It's been done five times since the merger for a two-game winner, first by O.J. Simpson in 1976 for the Bills and last by Chris Warren in Seattle in 1992.
Dillon, however, wants no part of history and not being in Hawaii in February won't crush him.
"I need time away from the game. Especially after this season," Dillon said. "Hey, the last time I went, I got hurt, so it's not going to be a big disappointment for me."
Dillon had his knee cleaned out with arthroscopic surgery after he banged it in last year's game. With 283 carries, he's a longshot to tie last year's career high of 340, given he hasn't carried more than 23 times in the last seven games and in 13 of the 14 games.
Yet the four guys ahead of him in the AFC race but behind the big three _ Travis Henry, Clinton Portis, Fred Taylor, Jamal Lewis – have all carried the ball less than Dillon.
Before going five straight games without 100 yards, Dillon had a shot at 1,500. But he's had little room since.
"I don't know what the reason is. I don't know," Dillon said. "All I can do is go out there and run a play.
"If I don't go this year, it doesn't mean I'm not All-Pro. I'm a three-time All-Pro," he said. "It wasn't my goal this year. I'm trying to get to Super Bowls instead of Pro Bowls. If I don't go, I'll finish strong and take some time off."