- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 16, 2004

The Cincinnati Bengals left town late Sunday night elated over their 17-10 win against Washington but steamed over what they believe was an act of unsportsmanlike conduct by Redskins safety Sean Taylor.

Bengals coach Marvin Lewis yesterday said one of his players was spit on during the game at FedEx Field. Though he did not specify who was involved in the altercation, a source with knowledge of the incident said Taylor spit on Cincinnati receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh after completing a tackle.

Houshmandzadeh approached Taylor on the field after the game, and according to several people who witnessed it, got into a heated exchange with the rookie. The Bengals receiver later called Taylor “a punk” in a post-game interview.

“It had nothing to do with physical contact in the game,” said Houshmandzadeh, who caught seven passes for 59 yards and was matched up one-on-one with Taylor several times. “He knows what he did. It’s not a big deal. But he’s a punk.”

Lewis yesterday brought up the incident, which occurred the same day Cleveland running back William Green appeared to spit on Pittsburgh linebacker Joey Porter, setting off a pre-game fight between the teams.

“We had a player spit on yesterday, and that’s not right,” said Lewis, the Redskins’ defensive coordinator in 2002 under Steve Spurrier. “It’s something that’s been escalating from certain players. Hopefully the league will do something to cut it out.”

When asked about the situation yesterday, Taylor refused to speak, continuing the media boycott he started following his drunken driving arrest on Oct.28. Washington coach Joe Gibbs had not heard about the spitting allegation.

“No, I wasn’t aware of that,” Gibbs said.

Griffin injury not serious

The Redskins received some good news yesterday when an MRI taken on defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin revealed a less-serious injury than the club originally feared.

Griffin, who had to leave Sunday’s game in the second quarter, suffered a hip flexor and strained gluteus muscle. His status, according to head athletic trainer John Burrell, is day-to-day.

“We were really worried about it last night, because it’s something that could have been, if you get the wrong report, something serious,” Gibbs said. “It’s not. They felt like it’s just a strain. I talked to him today on the practice field, and he was feeling good about it. Of course, he always wants to play anyway. We’ll just see, kind of take it day to day. But we’re really pleased that we didn’t get a bad report there.”

Griffin, who entered Sunday’s game with 61 tackles and a team-high four sacks, appeared to be moving around well yesterday but said he didn’t know whether he’d be ready to resume practicing tomorrow.

No longer No. 1

The Redskins’ defense lost its place atop the NFL’s team rankings after surrendering 316 yards to the Bengals. Washington, which had been No. 1 in overall defense for several weeks, fell to No. 2 with an average of 267.1 yards allowed per game. The Pittsburgh Steelers are now No. 1 at 257.9 yards a game.

Playing for an extended time without the services of starters LaVar Arrington, Mike Barrow, Phillip Daniels and Matt Bowen, the Redskins managed to hold opponents to under 300 yards in each of their first six games. They’ve now allowed at least 300 in three consecutive games, perhaps a sign that all the injuries are beginning to catch up to them.

“You’re always going to miss playmakers,” linebacker Marcus Washington said. “But you can’t really worry about that right now. You’ve got to take the guys that you’ve got, go out there and play well.”

Extra points

Linebacker Khary Campbell suffered a torn ACL in his right knee during Sunday’s game and will undergo season-ending surgery. Gibbs said the club likely will sign another linebacker this week to replace Campbell, who led the team in special teams tackles.

“We’re certainly thin there right now,” said Gibbs of a linebacker corps that was already minus Arrington and Barrow. “We’re kind of doing all the research and homework of whoever’s on everyone’s practice squad. So we’ll certainly be looking hard at that.” …

Gibbs said he hopes to continue to activate Darnerien McCants for games after the third-year receiver caught his first two passes of the season late in Sunday’s loss. McCants, who led Washington with six touchdowns in 2003, had been active in only one other game this year. The Redskins, though, found a way to free up a gameday roster spot for him by dressing only seven offensive linemen and handing over all returning duties to James Thrash.

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