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Bengals hope to correct course



Published: Tue, October 31, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.



Two veterans called for change after a 29-27 loss to the Falcons on Sunday.

CINCINNATI (AP) -- Rudi Johnson thinks the Cincinnati Bengals should stop trying to get fancy and stick with the running game. Willie Anderson thinks they need to get tougher and figure out what they want to do.

A day after the Bengals' latest loss, coach Marvin Lewis had no shortage of suggestions for how to get it right.

Not that he wanted to hear any of them, of course.

The defending AFC North champions are still in a funk with the middle of the season approaching, and the frustration is starting to bubble out. Johnson and Anderson -- two veteran leaders in the locker room -- called for change after a 29-27 loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.

"We have no identity, what we are," said Anderson, a Pro Bowl right tackle in his 11th season.

"We changed what was working," said Johnson, who holds the club rushing record. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it. You know what I mean. Take a look at it. A lot of games we lose is for that reason."

Bengals trail Colts by a game

The loss dropped the Bengals to 4-3, trailing Baltimore by one game for the division lead. The Bengals have a lot to get straightened out before their game next Sunday in Baltimore.

First, they've got to get a grip on emotions.

Lewis didn't like his two veterans sounding off after the Bengals' third loss in their last four games. He attributed the remarks -- many of which came across as second-guessing -- to the normal frustration that comes with losing.

Then, he zinged them.

"We do certain things on offense, and I appreciate their thoughts," Lewis said Monday. "But if they were always 100 percent right, we would really be in great shape."

Lewis is accustomed to receiver Chad Johnson sounding off about something or other, but the running back is usually diplomatic about the play-calling. After he watched most of the latest loss from the sideline, Rudi Johnson sounded off.

Aids opening drive

He carried five times for 32 yards and a touchdown on the Bengals' opening drive, then got the ball one more time on the final play of the quarter. In the second quarter, the Bengals started throwing the ball and handing it to Chris Perry.

Johnson carried six times in the third quarter, and that was it. He finished with 46 yards on 12 attempts and bitterness the Bengals went away from the run after the first drive.

"There's so much going on, trying to do too much," Johnson said. "Stick with what's working. If you're trying to win the ballgame, stick with what's working. If they find a way to stop it, then you change up. But don't just cold-turkey something for nothing, for no reason."

Johnson thinks the Bengals get too exotic instead of sticking with what works.

"It's real simple," he said. "We make it real complicated. It shouldn't be that complicated."




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