Let's get back to those winning ways today baby

brief interlude:: (Blessed Union of Souls : "I Believe")

I believe,,, love will find a way.

ahhhhhhhh, ohohohohoh, she believes that love will see u through and make you understand

love is the answer;;; i believeeeeeeee, love will find a way; i believe i bellieve, i beilieve, i believe, love is the answer, i believe, love will find a way


Notes: T.J. doubtful
October 13, 2005

Posted: 3:15 a.m. (Updated: 10-14-05, 5:10 p.m.)

Wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh (hand) didn’t practice again Friday, heightening the possibility he won't play Sunday for the second straight week in Tennessee and was downgraded to doubtful. Tight end Tony Stewart (back) also didn't work, but is questionable.

But on Thursday, Houshmandzadeh did end up escorting retired NFL official Tom Johnson onto the field. The appearance at practice of Johnson, a former head linesman of Cincinnati, is head coach Marvin Lewis’s response to a spate of a league-leading 57 penalties, an NFL-record pace and nearly double last year’s total of 29 after five games. Johnson also showed up at Friday's practice.

Lewis said he invited in Johnson "to help us with alignments."

"It's not been a problem for us in practice, but it's good to have them make note out of it," Lewis said. "We watch it every day in practice. It's what we do. But it brings it more to attention."

The Bengals have had an illegal formation called on them in four of the five games. Two have been declined, and one cost them a first down against the Bears, The killer came against Houston when running back Rudi Johnson lined up wrong on the line and cost them a four-yard touchdown pass to Houshmandzadeh.

Lewis isn't as concerned about the physical mistakes, such as holding.

"We haven't had a (holding) call that matters," Lewis said. "Holding is going to happen. It's an interpretation. Sometimes you want to hold so somebody doesn't get killed."

A total of 18 teams have more penalties this year than last, but no one is on the Bengals’ break-neck pace. Titans head coach Jeff Fisher, the foe this week, is co-chairman of the NFL Competition Committee and has noticed the increase.

“There seem to be more 15-yard penalties, big chunks of penalties,” Fisher said earlier this week. “Unsportsmanlike-like, late hits. Those kind, more than we ever have. We need to remind our players and the clubs that there is a respect level. Not only respect for the game, but respect for the opponent. You may not like your opponent, but you have to respect your opponent.”

Fisher doesn’t think the second season of point of emphasis on illegal contact and holding has contributed to the rise. But he thinks the close games have put special teams under stress.

“There’s a great deal of emphasis on special teams production,” Fisher said. “When you do that and put pressure on younger players in the teams area, they are going to grab a jersey, or push somebody in the back.”

Only two of the Bengals’ penalties have been of the unnecessary roughness type on defensive tackle Bryan Robinson and cornerback Reggie Myles on a punt. Safety Ifeanyi Ohalete has been called once for roughing the quarterback.

CINCY TUNES IN: The Bengals’ 40.9 rating during the 23-20 loss in Jacksonville Sunday night was the highest local-market rating of any NFL game in the nation last weekend. In Cincinnati, one rating point equates to 8,802, or more than 360,000 households. The Jacksonville rating reflects local ratings on ESPN and Channel 12, which also carried the ESPN broadcast. The Bengals have been the top-rated TV show of all programming in the Greater Cincinnati market for each of the five weekly periods this year.

The numbers confirm some rock-ribbed Cincinnati truths. The Bengals have a rabid, committed fan base, and the three-year administration of head coach Marvin Lewis has had far-reaching appeal.

“It not only shows what a great football market Cincinnati is, but the personality of the roster,” said Vince Cicero, the club’s director of corporate sales and marketing. “Carson Palmer, a Heisman Trophy winner. The excitement Chad Johnson brings. The every day Rudi Johnson, the play of the young defenders, and Marvin’s fingerprints are all over it.”

“I would certainly think in the last two and a half years, the casual fan is now becoming the more avid fan,” Cicero said. “Fans that were going to one or two games are going to them all. Fans that weren’t going to any are going to one or two, and watching more on TV.”

The Bengals were huge on the tube last week. CSI was a distant second with a 25.9 rating. Desperate Housewives, which ran in direct competition with the game, was third at 20.2 . Survivor was fourth at 19.9. The ratings are 19.2 percent over last year’s Bengals’ win on Sunday night against Miami that drew a 34.3 rating.

Nationally, the Bengals held up on cable only. The game drew a 6.0 rating/9 share, slightly better than the Week 5 Sunday night game of last year when Ravens-Redskins drew a 5.9 rating/9 share. The Bengals may have lost to the small-market Jaguars on the field, but they beat the big-market Angels and Yankees in their fifth and deciding game of an American League Division Series.

The Bengals were the most popular TV show in Greater Cincinnati during 2004, but this year’s broadcasts are off to an even stronger start. Last year, 11 of the 16 games were No. 1 locally for their weeks, and the ones that were not No. 1 were all No. 2.

Cicero said tickets are virtually non-existent for the next three home games against the Steelers, Packers, and Colts.

INJURY UPDATES: Also not working Thursday again was tight end Tony Stewart (back). Running back Rudi Johnson (knee) and linebacker Hannibal Navies (back) returned after missing Wednesday. For the Titans, leading wide receiver Drew Bennett (knee) surfaced on their Thursday injury report as questionable.

Free safety Madieu Williams (shoulder) isn’t exactly sure how his injured labrum is going to respond Sunday, but he’s going to find out because that’s when he’ll make his first tackle since falling on his shoulder going for the ball in practice 13 days ago.

“If I’m going to play, that’s the only thing I can go by. See how it is, pretty much,” Williams said. “I don’t really (wonder). You’ve got to be optimistic and I am that everything will go well.”

The irony is that the Bengals have gone back to basics this week led by defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan, and have worked on the fundamentals of tackling. But the guy they really need to tackle won’t let it loose until Sunday. Williams does have the rep of a sure tackler, but “I like to think of myself as an all-around safety. I’m not going to limit myself to tackling. (Bresnahan) was right. Guys were at the ball, they just missed tackles. We’ve gone back to (the basics). We’ve been working on it all week. Hopefully it pays off. We’ll find out on Sunday.”

ON THE RUN: Here we go again.

Titans running back Chris Brown has yet to log a 100-yard game this season after having four by this time last season before he put up 147 against Cincinnati on Halloween. Guess what Tennessee is going to try and do Sunday?

The same thing Jacksonville did against the Bengals Sunday night a week after rushing for a franchise-low 12 yards. Run it, run it, and run it some more, and why not, after the Jaguars piled up 181 yards.

“It was tackling. We didn’t tackle well,” said defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan after Wednesday’s practice. “The run fits weren’t as bad as I initially thought. We just flat out miss a guy. Two guys standing there on a cutback run. We’ve got to get back to fundamentals.”

Fundamentals and No. 40, free safety Madieu Williams. The Bengals didn’t have him in Jacksonville and it was a reason for the lack of run stopping, but he practiced Wednesday for the first time since injuring the labrum in his shoulder during practice 13 days ago.

“How could he not help?” Bresnahan asked. “He’s explosive, energetic. He’s a good, solid tackler. We just don’t want to throw him out there before he’s ready. But he’s gone through practice with no problem.”

While Bengaldom moans I-told-you-so about the run defense that finally brought back memories of last year as Fred Taylor joined the eight guys from ’04 who rushed for at least 110 yards with 130, Bresnahan remains calm.

“Until we make it a consistent negative, I’m not going to panic. We can get it cleaned up,” Bresnahan said. “Since the Philadelphia (preseason) game, we’ve tackled pretty damn well. From the positive end, it wasn’t the structure, it wasn’t that we didn’t understand our fits. It’s easily correctable.”

His biggest disappointment is the slew of yardage after first contact, or after what he calls a whiff. Bresnahan counted near "the century mark,” when 20-25 yards is the maximum he tolerates.

“That shows you that we just have to make the tackle,” Bresnahan said.

Rookie middle linebacker Odell Thurman didn’t grade badly. Bresnahan says the defense didn’t get in the right run fit twice, and on one of them Thurman got burned on a fullback lead block cutting against the grain.

“After that, he became a hesitant linebacker,” Bresnahan said. “You could see it in the pictures. It’s coming right at him and he was playing four yards off the ball, and that’s not him. He got caught up in playing a play rather than playing football. He didn’t play poorly. He just didn’t make the Odell plays that he’s been making.”

The Bengals always emphasize tackling at the beginning of each practice with some drills and Thursday is probably the heaviest day with a tackling-turnover circuit in which each coach runs a station that involves either tackling or forcing and recovering turnovers.

Defensive tackle Bryan Robinson, a stand-up guy, reiterated his vow when he arrived here Wednesday, and said the line has to share in the blame “when there are gaping holes there.

“We are going to stop the run,” Robinson pledged again. “You’re going to have a game like that, but the key is not to have another one and learn from it.”

John Thornton, the other defensive tackle, doesn’t buy the fact that Tennessee is struggling running the ball. He must know that Brown is averaging 4.1 yards per carry this season and 4.5 for his career.

“I came away really impressed with Chris Brown last year,” Thornton said. “He’s younger than Fred (a third-year player), so he’s probably more durable, and he’s a tall guy (6-3) who is strong and cuts back. It’s a misconception they can’t run. You look on film and they go up and down the field running and passing, but their defense has been giving up a lot of points and they’ve been behind.”

CLEM MOVES: As Bresnahan held court with media types, end Duane Clemons walked by and asked, ‘What about Clemons coming back?”

Talk about something no one wants to tackle. The question is, now that he’s on the roster, will he be active? And if he is active, will another lineman sit down, and who?

Head coach Marvin Lewis has refused to utter more than three words about him ever since he got suspended four games for violation of the league’s substance abuse policy. Bresnahan said much depends on how he practices this week and that it will be a game-time decision.

“Yeah, it’s going to be a hard decision,” Bresnahan said. “We’ve only got three tackles as it is, Carl Powell is a valuable guy who plays both. ... We’ll see.”

Thornton hopes the coaches add Clemons and sit no one so they can dress seven linemen instead of the six they’ve been using all season.

“I’ve never been on a team that played just six,” Thornton said. “Usually it’s eight so they roll people through. That’s what I’d like to see. But I don’t get paid to make those decisions. That’s Jay’s department.”

Line coach Jay Hayes isn’t saying much either. He’s done a nice job parceling out playing time and keeping six guys fresh but, like his guys, he also has high regard for Clemons.

“The guy’s a good, solid veteran player,” said Hayes after a practice in which Clemons reportedly gave the offensive line fits.

“Duane Clemons is a savvy, smart football player who knows the game. We could sure use him,” Robinson said. “If he’s up, we won’t miss a beat. If he’s not, I don’t think we’ll miss a beat, either. It will be nice to have a guy like that in there for you.”

Clemons is an end on a line that has been dressing more ends than tackles, but he can also play tackle on passing downs. Robinson joked, “Maybe if he wants to join us, Clem will have to play a little three technique and get over the guard on first and second down.”

But no one is doubting that Clemons would give the defense a lift in pass rush after getting no sacks in two of the last three games.

“Physically he looks fine,” Bresnahan said. “He’s a good, veteran player. I don’t think that’s going to be a problem.”

TAKING THE HIT: Cornerback Reggie Myles, Standup Guy II, takes the blame for the Jacksonville loss. When he came from out of-bounds as the gunner to down a punt on the game’s first series, it ended up being a 40-yard penalty that tipped field position.

“That was a tempo-setter. I cost us the game,” Myles said. “I honestly cost us field position, and they went down and scored on the drive. I changed the tempo of the game from the start.”

Myles, a fourth-year player, understands why he’s taking heat. Lewis had to be separated from Myles three weeks ago after Myles got a 15-yard personal foul for a head butt, and Sunday night he simply went up to Myles after the penalty and told him again he has to play smart, to forget about it, and keep playing.

“They say it’s 80 percent mental and 20 percent physical and they’re right,” Myles said. “It’s like I told you when I head-butted old buddy. When the ball is snapped, I’m 100 percent. I play ball, and whatever happens, happens. I’m all out. If I have to apologize, I do and go on to the next one ... but, that one set the tempo.”

How short the leash is now for Myles is anyone’s guess. The coaches may not have the short-term memory. Wide receiver Kevin Walter could team with wide receiver Tab Perry as the other gunner. All special teams coach Darrin Simmons would allow is that the mental mistakes can’t be tolerated.

“I’m emotional, too,” Simmons said. “But you have to control it.”

Myles knows the rule, but didn’t think he went out of bounds. Even though the ball was just sitting there on the Jacksonville 19, Myles felt he had to protect the ball from the returner as he waited for his team to get downfield.

“It’s a situation that had never come up,” Myles said. “But I’m a fourth-year guy. I have to make that play.”