Dillon in eye of CBS' Allen

9-27-01, 6:25 p.m.

BY GEOFF HOBSON

Corey Dillon has done something three times that Marcus Allen never did. Marcus Allen has done things Corey Dillon dreams of doing.

Which is why they thoroughly enjoyed seeing each other Friday when Allen came to Paul Brown Stadium to tape a feature on the 2-0 Bengals for a segment on Sunday's "NFL Today," pre-game show on CBS.

"I was almost jumping all over him to get his autograph," said Dillon, one of eight backs in history to have at least three 200-yard games. "We've got so many things in common, being from the West Coast and playing in the same (Pac 10) conference."

"I love running backs," said Allen, the former running back who is one of nine players with at least 12,000 career yards. "(Dillon) is the league's best player no one knows about. Maybe this year things will change.

"When he broke Walter Payton's record, I wanted to come out and do a story," Allen said. "But they said I should go somewhere else. It's a sad commentary on teams that don't win. Those players never get their due."

But the Bengals are winning and part of Dillon's due is getting interviewed by Allen, not just any network blazer. Of the NFL's top 20 all-time rushers, Allen played

the longest with 16 years and has more touchdowns (123) than any back but Emmitt Smith.

But he never rushed for 200 yards like Dillon has three times, never mind the record 278.

"Nothing surprises me because these guys are talented," Allen said. "But that's a lot of yards when you figure that 100 yards is what guys shoot for. You don't expect that to happen in this league. You expect guys to tackle better. But some times there are days when it doesn't matter how many guys are out there, what defense they are in, how many times they blitz. You get in that zone and there's nothing that can stop you."

Allen said he never came close to 278 ("just in college, which doesn't count,") but he did get into that zone in Super Bowl XVIII when he ripped off a Super-record 9.6 yards per carry on the way to a career-best 191 yards that included a 74-yarder.

"That's as close as I got," Allen said, "and I took myself out of the game."

For Dillon, who is playing for a team with a winning record for the first time since the Bengals won his first game in the league four years ago, playing in a Super Bowl is impressive enough. Never mind dominating it.

"It was kind of funny," Dillon said. "He was saying how he never came close to doing what I did in his whole career and I'm telling him, 'I want to get to where you've been.'

"Talk about a guy who has done it," Dillon said. "Winning the Super Bowl. MVP. Playing 16 years. He's the ultimate warrior. Hell, no, I won't play (16 years), but I'll go as long as I can. I think there's a common bond with running backs no matter when they played."

Allen calls Dillon "a quintessential back. He's extremely instinctive. He moves naturally. He can break tackles. He has speed. He's shifty."

Allen, 41, who retired four years ago, still looks like he could take a handoff and get 4.1 yards, which is his career average. When he sat down for his interview, Bengals head coach Dick LeBeau said he tried to recruit him for a couple of third-down snaps.

"A great player," said LeBeau, who admitted Allen ripped up a few of his defensive schemes. "I had the privilege of swearing at him in person."

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