12-2-02, 1:10 a.m.
BY GEOFF HOBSON
History. Headaches. Heartbreak.
All for Pro Bowl running back Corey Dillon all on the same day. So what else is new in his starcrossed six-year career as the Bengals' meal ticket?
Dillon became the fourth man in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards in his first six seasons on a seven-yard draw play late in the first half. He was also a key figure in the Bengals' two devastating turnovers that were a big part of the Ravens' 27-23 victory Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium.
Dillon also found himself on the sidelines clearing out the cobwebs after a shot to the head on four of the Bengals' last five plays as they drove for the winning touchdown.
When the dust cleared, Dillon had just 70 yards on 23 carries and right tackle Willie Anderson asked for a summit between the offensive line and running backs to discuss a running game that has stalled the past two weeks.
"We're not on the same cue," Anderson said. "The offensive line and the running backs and the line coaches and the running backs coaches, we're on totally different
pages right now and that's why he's getting just 60, 70 yards and not going for 140."
Dillon had no comment after he joined the select company of Eric Dickerson, Barry Sanders, and Curtis Martin, but his euphoria couldn't have lasted very long after he ran the ball to the Baltimore 8 on the draw play for 1,000 and a first down with 37 seconds left in the first half.
Two plays later, Dillon went out for a pass near the goal line, and while he cut inside, quarterback Jon Kitna threw to the outside and nowhere near Dillon. It went right to rookie free safety Chad Williams. Williams went 98 yards for a touchdown after wrestling Kitna off his jersey, and the 14-point play took what would have been a 20-7 Bengal lead to a 14-13 Bengal deficit.
"You just don't let the quarterback tackle you, you've got to break it somehow," Williams said. "I wasn't thinking about 98 yards. I was just looking at Kitna. Then I saw he was over pursuing and I just cut behind him."
Kitna called it, "a very bad communication at a very bad time."
Then, with the Bengals driving for at least a field goal that would have given them a 26-21 lead with about 10 minutes left in the game, they faced a third-and-six from the Ravens 26. After Kitna did a play-action fake, he said Dillon knocked the ball from him in a fumble the Ravens recovered and cashed for the winning points five minutes later.
"Corey tried to skim around me to pick up his (pass) protection and he hit the ball with his shoulder," Kitna said.
The sledding for Dillon on the run wasn't much better against the Ravens. Twelve of his 23 carries went for two yards or less and that has Anderson worried.
"Running the ball is like synchronized swimming," Anderson said. "He has to be in tune with what we're doing and we have to be in tune with what he's doing. We may think there's a hole there and he may see something else. Or, he may not think there's a hole there and we may think there is. Overall, it's hurting us. We need to sit down in the meeting room and see exactly the heck is going on and why we're not being successful with the running game because it's killing us."
On that last drive, Dillon apparently took a shot to the head when he caught a three-yard pass over the middle to set up a fourth-and-one from the Ravens 15. Backup Rudi Johnson carried for two yards on the next play and then Kitna fired two passes to him while Dillon knelt on the sideline. Dillon returned for the fourth down play, but Kitna's pass to him at about the 2 got knocked down.
"He was woozy," said Bengals trainer Paul Sparling. "We checked him and when the symptoms cleared, he went back in."