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Johnson's injury caps day to forget for Bengals

Their defense is a disaster and their season is in free fall. And that was the least of the Cincinnati Bengals' problems Sunday.

Just 2-6 at the halfway mark in a year when they were the choice of many experts to win the AFC North, the capper came in the final two minutes as the Bengals had to watch star wide receiver Chad Johnson carted off the Ralph Wilson Stadium turf with a neck injury.

"It's terrible," quarterback Carson Palmer said after the 33-21 loss. "You never like to see any teammate get carted off the field. It's scary anytime you get a stretcher on the field and somebody has to get taken off. Chad is as good of a player as we've got on this team and as good as there is around so it was hard to see."

"Any time a fan favorite guy goes down like that, you want to show your support and hope everything is OK," said cornerback Johnathan Joseph.

Coach Marvin Lewis said Johnson was immobilized as a precaution because he was experiencing pain in his neck -- but had movement in his extremities. After getting X-rays and a CT scan, Johnson did fly home with the team.

"Everything is moving and he was talking," Lewis said. "He never lost consciousness."

The Johnson injury just added to the list of Bengals' woes. Their injury-depleted defense entered the game allowing 385 yards and 30 points a game and the Bills eclipsed those ugly figures.

"We're 2-6. I'm not happy about it," said Lewis. "There's nothing I can change about it. It's disappointing but we've got to make football plays. We didn't make enough plays again today."

The Bengals have wrapped a trio of 8-8 seasons under Lewis around the 11-5 finish and AFC North title they won in 2005. They're going to be lucky to finish at .500 this time. In Year Five under Lewis, they were certainly expected to be playing come January. That looks like a long shot now.

"We're just not a very good football team. It's frustrating," Palmer said. "There's not much more you can stay about it."

Palmer agreed with a questioner who asked if this was the low point in his career.

"No question. I'm not going to try to explain it," he said. "It's frustrating. I don't have words for the way we feel in this locker room, about this game, about this season."

The highlight of the game for the Bengals was Glenn Holt's 100-yard kickoff return in the second quarter, the first against the Bills in Orchard Park since Chad Morton's game-winner in overtime for the Jets in the 2002 season opener.

Palmer had a decent day (26 of 39, 271 yards) but the Bengals rushed for just 28 yards and had the ball for fewer than 25 minutes. The Bills chewed up yardage against the defense and infuriated Lewis by going 8 of 13 on third down.

"We've got to do a better job there," Lewis said. "That's ridiculous."

Before his injury, Johnson made just three catches for 48 yards. And he had a huge drop on third-and-8 from the Bengals' 22 early in the fourth quarter. Free in front of a couple of defenders, Johnson was wide open in stride at the 42 with plenty of yards in front of him.

"Chad makes that play 98 times out of 100," Palmer said. "It was one of those times he just didn't make it."


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