CINCINNATI (AP) - Less than two weeks after the Cincinnati
Bengals signed him as an inexpensive insurance policy, Larry
Johnson showed he can still be the leading man.
Want to grind it out? Give him the ball.
The newcomer piled up 107 yards on Sunday, leading the way as
the Bengals ran the table in the AFC North by running over the
Cleveland Browns 16-7.
"I'm just glad they trust me to go in there, especially with
the division and the playoffs on the line," said Johnson, who was
released by Kansas City after a suspension. "I just came here for
a second chance."
The Bengals (8-3) were determined to run against the Browns
(1-10), who don't score much and have given up a lot of yards on
the ground. Cedric Benson missed his second straight game with a
sprained hip, and rookie backup Bernard Scott was slowed by a minor
knee injury for part of the game.
Although he barely knows the playbook, Johnson ran it to
"By far, this isn't what I was expecting," said Johnson, who
carried 22 times and averaged 4.9 yards per try. "I wasn't
expecting to come in and play as much as I did today."
The Bengals rushed for 210 yards overall, their second time
topping the 200-yard mark this season. Carson Palmer was relegated
to handing off most of the time - Cincinnati threw it only 24 times
and ran it 45.
"Absolutely not. Absolutely not. Absolutely not," said Palmer,
who was 13 of 24 for 110 yards and a touchdown. "It was fun to
Cincinnati reinforced its standing as top Dawg in the intrastate
series. The Bengals now have the longest stretch of domination in
the series' history, winning nine of the past 11 games.
The Browns reached double-digit losses for the eighth time in
their 11 years as an expansion team, done in by an offense that's
Neither team threw it much - the Bengals by design, the Browns
by default. Cleveland's Brady Quinn caught a pass from Joshua
Cribbs and ran for a touchdown during his first start in the
rivalry, but repeatedly was off-target while passing for only 100
Cribbs' throw was one of the Browns' best of the day.
"I caught one my senior year in high school in our homecoming
game," Quinn said. "That definitely allowed us to stay in the
game. At that point, we felt extremely confident."
They didn't come close again.
Quinn grew up as a Browns fan in central Ohio, watching the
let-it-fly matchups between Cleveland's Bernie Kosar and
Cincinnati's Boomer Esiason. His first start in the rivalry came on
a hand-it-off day. The teams combined for 63 yards passing in the
first half, which ended with another unexplainable Browns blunder.
Palmer was running toward the sideline with the clock running
out when Shaun Rogers caught him from behind and made a
horse-collar tackle, slamming the quarterback hard on his back. A
dazed Palmer rolled over and lay face-down for several seconds,
then got up and walked off slowly without assistance.
The penalty gave the Bengals an extra play with no time left,
and Shayne Graham matched his career high with a 53-yard field goal
that made it 13-0.
It was the second week in a row that a Browns penalty resulted
in an extra play and points. Safety Hank Poteat's interference in
the end zone in Detroit set up an extra play last week, allowing
Matthew Stafford to throw a touchdown pass for the Lions' 38-37
"It's more frustrating having it be as a result of a penalty,"
coach Eric Mangini said. "It's a three-point penalty. That's two
weeks in a row that it's resulted in points."
Rogers injured his left ankle late in the game and was taken off
the field on a cart. Mangini said he would have tests to determine
Cleveland's points came off a little trickery, with Quinn
morphing into a receiver/runner on the Browns' opening drive of the
second half. Cribbs cut in front of the quarterback to take a snap,
then threw back to his left for an 18-yard completion to Quinn, who
was covered by a linebacker and held on as he was tackled.
Quinn completed the drive with a 9-yard draw play that cut the
lead to 13-7, diving in headfirst for his first career rushing
The passing game? Not so good. In his third start since
regaining the job, Quinn went 15 of 34 for 100 yards. Cleveland
managed only 169 yards overall, the fewest allowed by the Bengals
in 26 years.
NOTES: Browns S Brodney Pool suffered a head injury and didn't
return in the second half. ... Cleveland's offense has scored seven
or fewer points seven times this season. ... The Vikings and
Packers also ran for more than 200 yards against the Browns. ...
Bengals top pick OL Andre Smith was active for the first time in
his rookie season and got into the game on some running plays. ...
Palmer didn't miss a play after the horse-collar tackle, returning
for the opening drive of the second half.