After making a decent proposal with a modest bow on one knee, Bengals wide receiver Chad Johnson couldn't marry his career day with a season-making victory.
Johnson made good Sunday on his mid-week guarantee in which he told the world he couldn't be stopped. He ended up with a career-best 189 yards on eight catches and sent a message to his team they could play with the undefeated Colts when his 68-yard touchdown streak turned the game from a blowout to a shootout late in the first quarter.
The Bengals lost, 45-37, but Johnson had another day in the sun, ending it three yards shy of 1,000 for this season in becoming the sixth Bengal to reach 5,000 yards at 5,121. Not to mention one marriage proposal and a message to the exiled Terrell Owens.
"Rather have the 'W,' " Johnson said of the record. "You know how I feel about losing."
You also know how he feels about celebrations. Loves them, and during his 68-yard touchdown catch down the left sideline pulled the Bengals to 14-10 late in the first quarter, he started. After running by cornerback Jason David (in front) and running away from safety Bob Sanders (in back), he pointed to the crowd and sidelines. He went from the end zone to a Ben-Gals cheerleader, got down on one knee, asked her to marry him, and when she said, "Yes," they kissed and it was only after the game he found out her name is Daphne, an account executive at Cincinnati radio stations Kiss 107 FM and Mix 94.1.
By the end of the game, even ESPN knew her name as they tried to reach her to get the Ben-Gal on "Cold Pizza" Monday morning.
"I had to reach deep into the bag of tricks," Johnson said. "Proposing is something everybody does, and once you do, your life is over."
BENGALS 5,000-YARD RECEIVERS:
Isaac Curtis, 1973-84, 416 catches-7,101 yards Carl Pickens, 1992-99, 530-6,887 Cris Collinsworth, 1981-88, 417-6,698 Eddie Brown, 1985-91, 363-6,134 Darnay Scott, 1994-2001, 386-5,975 Chad Johnson, 2001-, 343-5,121
Johnson didn't stop there. He went from Daphne to the Bengals sideline, grabbed a grease board and scrawled a message to Owens: "T.O. I got you baby," and the CBS cameras obliged him.
"I really don't like it. I just want him to know I got his back," Johnson said of the former Eagles receiver whose fate is to be decided by an arbitrator this week as he tries to hook on with another team. "That was for him. I talk to him almost every day. ... Everything he can't do now, I'm going to pick up the slack."
The antics overshadowed what a big play it was. It was the longest hookup between him and quarterback Carson Palmer since the 70-yard bomb on the second play of the Minnesota game way back in Week 2. And it came just 1:07 after Peyton Manning had scored on a 66-yard heave of his own to Reggie Wayne.
"If they were going to make it a shootout, we were going to match their intensity and just score along with them," Johnson said. "There's no pressure. It should be your mindset that you want to score every time you have the ball. Playing an offense like this, you want to score every time you touch the ball."
Johnson said the Colts offense is so good that, "it's unfair." But it was the Bengals who got more yards than the Colts with 492. "We're unfair, too. Cincinnati and the Colts are the two best offenses in the NFL. Yeah, in that order," he said.
Johnson looked around the media throng at his locker, and appeared to say, "See you in the Dome," which sounded like a reference to a playoff game in Indianapolis. But he didn't think it would be a good idea if the Bengals signed Owens for that stretch run.
"Not enough balls to go around," Johnson said.
It would not, it seems, be a marriage of convenience.