November 25, 2007
CINCINNATI (cbssportsline.com/AP) -- Chad Johnson got into the end zone at long last, then celebrated his breakthrough by squatting behind a television camera, spinning it around and aiming it at the field.
What he saw: A downcast Tennessee Titans team playing itself out of contention.
Johnson had a career-high 12 catches, set the Cincinnati record for career receptions, scored three touchdowns and steadied the Bengals to a 35-6 victory Sunday over the fast-fading Titans.
After emerging as one of the NFL's first-half surprises, Tennessee (6-5) has lost three in a row to slip back into the pack. The offense has been sloppy and the defense has suddenly lost its ability to stop anybody, giving up 28, 34 and 35 points during the slide.
It was the same story in Cincinnati.
One week after Carson Palmer threw a career-high four interceptions, the Bengals (4-7) had a breakout game behind Johnson, who had gone into a shell and a funk for the past month.
Stewing over suggestions that his look-at-me antics were hurting the team, the chatty receiver had stopped talking to the media. Finally, he has something to crow about, if he so chooses.
Johnson piled up 103 yards and his first touchdowns since a 51-45 loss in Cleveland on Sept. 16. In that one, he dived into the Dawg Pound and a got a sticky, eye-stinging shower of beer.
Johnson eclipsed Carl Pickens' club mark with his 531st career reception in the second quarter Sunday. His next catch was a 10-yard touchdown that broke the long drought and left the 65,489 fans wondering how he would celebrate.
He ran through the end zone, commandeered a television camera, peered into the viewfinder and swung it toward the field, drawing a 15-yard penalty for excessive celebration. The penalty was assessed on the kickoff, helping the Titans drive to Rob Bironas' 23-yard field goal.
Johnson also had a 2-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter and a 3-yard score in the fourth, confining his celebrations to old-fashioned hugs and high-fives from teammates.
Palmer made up for one of the worst games of his career with one of his best, going 32-of-38 for 283 yards with those three scoring passes to Johnson.
For the Titans, it was another all-Baronas performance. Tennessee had to settle for a pair of field goals in the first half, when it reached the 10-yard line three times. Vince Young lost a fumble on a blind-side hit, scuttling one drive.
The dual-threat quarterback wasn't much of a threat when the Titans got close to the goal line. Twice, he failed to connect with open receivers in the end zone. A tell-tale moment came in the fourth quarter, when the Titans went for it on fourth-and-goal from the 1. Young slipped on a rollout, got up and lobbed an incompletion into the end zone.
Young finished 19-of-31 for 246 yards with an interception. He sat forlornly on the bench, with his helmet on his bowed head, while the rest of the team jogged for the locker room. Palmer came over to console him with a few words before heading off.
The Associated Press News Service
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