- The Washington Times - Monday, December 8, 2003

BALTIMORE — For a guy who said earlier in the week that he’s “not coverable,” Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chad Johnson certainly disappeared in the team’s biggest game in more than a decade.

Johnson, who came into yesterday’s game as the AFC’s second-leading receiver with 71 receptions for 1,105 yards and nine touchdowns, was shut down by Ravens cornerback Chris McAlister.

During a midweek conference call, Johnson said he called ex-Pro Bowl cornerback Deion Sanders and asked “Prime Time” to come out of retirement because nobody in the NFL could cover him.

Yesterday it took until the fourth quarter with the game out of reach for the Bengals before Johnson caught his first pass — a harmless 6-yard hitch. Johnson finished with just two receptions for 15 yards. At Johnson’s expense, McAlister demonstrated anew that he is having a Pro Bowl-caliber season.

“The bottom line is that he called Deion, and I just want to apologize for that and to Deion Sanders personally, because he kind of insulted all of the defensive backs in the National Football League,” McAlister said. “Deion can stay in retirement because we can still handle Chad Johnson.”

Speak right up

This just in: Bengals quarterback Jon Kitna is not a ventriloquist. Kitna blamed his lack of pass protection yesterday on the fact that his teammates couldn’t hear him because the offense was working all game on a silent count.

Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said the reason his quarterback was sacked six times — tying a Ravens season high — was because left tackle Levi Jones left the game just before halftime with a right knee injury.

Kitna’s excuse was much more creative. Two of the sacks resulted in fumbles and a change of possession that led to an insurance touchdown in the fourth quarter that gave the Ravens a 31-13 lead.

“The thing is, we were basically working on a silent count all day, because my voice being hoarse, the offensive line really couldn’t hear me aside from the center,” Kitna said. “[The Ravens] just got after it today, and they kinda smelled blood, and they came after it. It was a tough day. A tough day all around.”

NFL rushing record

After his spectacular 180-yard rushing game yesterday, Baltimore’s Jamal Lewis is just 378 yards shy of becoming the fifth running back in NFL history to rush for more than 2,000 yards in a season.

Lewis is on pace for 1,996 yards and has an outside chance of breaking Eric Dickerson’s NFL record of 2,105 set in 1984. Lewis isn’t thinking about Dickerson’s mark, but he definitely thinks he can join Dickerson, Barry Sanders (2,053 in 1997), Terrell Davis (2008 in 1998) and O.J. Simpson (2,003 in 1973) as the only men to top 2,000.

“The chances are great,” Lewis said. “The chances are great as long as the line keeps blocking like they are, everything will work out, but that’s not my main focus. It’s just to win and just keep running the way we’re running and keep winning the way we’re winning.”

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