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Warrick scores on punt return, long catch

11/17/2003

CINCINNATI (AP) -- Pop the corks and make the toast, you '72
Dolphins. The perfect record is safe for one more season.

It's guaranteed.


Chat with Chiefs RB Priest Holmes on Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET. Send your questions now!

With a punt return and a long touchdown catch, Peter Warrick
eclipsed Kansas City's playmakers and let the Cincinnati Bengals
back up their boast Sunday with a 24-19 victory over the Chiefs.

Trying to become the first team to go 10-0 since the 1998
Broncos, the less-than-perfect Chiefs unraveled against the Bengals
(5-5), who finished the day tied for first after making Chad
Johnson's guarantee come true.

Question on the Chiefs: Will their defense and passing attack make them vulnerable in the playoffs?
Coming into this week it was understood that the defense and the passing attack were weak, but the strengths of the Chiefs had been able to successfully mask them. This week the Bengals may have given the rest of the NFL a plausible blueprint on how to defeat the Chiefs. They took away the running game and forced Trent Green to beat them.

Question on the Bengals: Is it time to consider Lewis as coach of the year?
He's definitely deserving of coach of the year honors. He's done two remarkable things this year: He has this squad believing in itself and he's kept this team in almost every game. It's an amazing story that this team is tied for first place after Week 11.

Eric Allen played cornerback for 14 NFL seasons with the Eagles, Saints and Raiders.

"The worst thing is to have a guy come out and shoot his mouth
making a statement, and they stood up to it," Chiefs cornerback
Eric Warfield said. "This is a good team, but we feel like we
shouldn't have lost."

The undefeated '72 Dolphins get together for a toast when the
last winless team falls each season, reveling in their distinction.
Warrick made this unbeaten team fall hard.

"That's having my back," said Johnson, who apologized to some
of the Chiefs on the field for his guarantee. "They didn't leave
me hanging in the wind, and I didn't want to leave them hanging in
the wind."

The victory left them into a first-place tie with Baltimore in
the AFC North. The Bengals haven't been in contention this late in
a season since 1990, the last time they had a winning record.

Warrick, a top draft pick who symbolized their 12 years of
misery, pulled off the plays that got them out of the malaise.

Johnson was in the trainer's room getting intravenous fluids for
cramps when Warrick made one cut and headed upfield on a 68-yard
punt return early in the fourth quarter. He hoisted the ball in
celebration when he reached the 20-yard line -- and the '72 Dolphins
could get ready to hoist those glasses.

"It was sickening," said Chiefs returner Dante Hall, who has
run back four kicks for touchdowns this season. "I wanted to be in
his shoes."

Warrick was just trying to prove he belongs in Hall's echelon.

"Dante Hall is a great player, but today was my day to shine,"
said Warrick, who also ran a punt back for a touchdown in his 2000
rookie season.

Johnson was back in time to see the clinching score six minutes
later. Warrick grabbed a long pass from Jon Kitna down the middle,
made a 360-degree spin to shake Warfield at the Chiefs 44-yard line
and took it the rest of the way for a clinching 77-yard score.

On the Chiefs sideline, players just dropped their heads, turned
their backs and blamed themselves.

"It would have been much worse if they had beaten us at our
best," Hall said. "But we didn't play well. It's like they say:
'On any given Sunday."

Rudi Johnson ran for 165 yards and Kitna threw two touchdown
passes and avoided a game-turning mistake as Cincinnati positioned
itself to pull off the upset.

Their inspired defense made the difference, stuffing one of the
NFL's most dangerous teams until it was too late. Kansas City had
tremendous field position for most of the game, but didn't start
moving until Warrick gave the Bengals a lead big enough to let
their defense relax.

Trent Green threw two touchdown passes in the final seven
minutes, the last one a 3-yard toss to Jason Dunn with 3:19 to go.
The Chiefs never got the ball back.

Not even Hall could make a dent in the Bengals' momentum. In one
telling moment, he drew a penalty for kicking the ball away angrily
after a botched return.

The crowd of 64,923 -- a record for Paul Brown Stadium -- broke
into one final cheer when Baltimore's 9-6 loss to Miami in overtime
was shown on the scoreboard, meaning the Bengals were back in first
place for the first time in 13 years.

Afterward, Chad Johnson's teammates said they were just as
confident that they could win, but weren't about to say it.

"We just didn't want our secret to be let out," offensive
tackle Willie Anderson said.

Now, the secret's out.<
^Notes: Warrick, a top pick in 2000, finished with six catches for a
career-high 114 yards. Chad Johnson had seven catches for 74 yards.
... As Kitna went to his knee for the last time, Johnson stood on
the field with his right index finger raised and Bengals players
doused head coach Marvin Lewis on the sideline. ... Chiefs TE Tony
Gonzalez had seven catches for 86 yards. He tied Ed Podolak for
second in team history with catches in 46 consecutive games.

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