No. 2 receiver No. 1 threat vs. Ravens

Houshmandzadeh continues dominance with 147 yards, TD

Ravens Gameday

Bengals 42 Ravens 29

November 28, 2005|By MARK CURNUTTE | MARK CURNUTTE,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

CINCINNATI -- It's T.J. Houshmandzadeh, not Chad Johnson, who gets the best of the Ravens' defense.

Houshmandzadeh, the Bengals' No. 2 receiver behind two-time Pro Bowl pick Johnson, hurt the Ravens again yesterday with a game-high nine receptions for 147 yards and one touchdown.

"I was ready to go, man," Houshmandzadeh said. "It was fun. They've got all those high-paid corners over there. Let them man up and see what we can do."

Houshmandzadeh's locker in Paul Brown Stadium is next to that of Johnson, who keeps an infamous list of opposing cornerbacks.

Asked if he had one, Houshmandzadeh said, "No, I don't need a list."

It was an early confrontation with Ravens cornerback Chris McAlister that inspired Houshmandzadeh even more.

"My emotions sometimes get the best of me during the game," he said. "I just was feeling good. He was talking trash to me. He deflected the ball, and I thought it was pass interference, and he started talking trash. So that just really, really got me more into the game.

"Since you want to talk, c'mon."

Houshmandzadeh scored on a 30-yard touchdown pass from Carson Palmer early in the third quarter. Safety Chad Williams whiffed, and cornerback Dale Carter couldn't bring him down.

The touchdown was Houshmandzadeh's third receiving. He has one rushing, and two others were nullified by penalties this season. He had run past McAlister on the play.

"I haven't been in the end zone for a long time, so that was a relief," Houshmandzadeh said.

He emerged as the Bengals' No. 2 receiver last season when Peter Warrick was slowed by knee and shin injuries. The Bengals re-signed Houshmandzadeh, an unrestricted free agent, to a four-year, $13 million contract in March. Late in the preseason, they released Warrick, who signed with the Seattle Seahawks.

In fact, Houshmandzadeh said that when he re-signed with the Bengals he had a free-agent visit scheduled to Baltimore. He never made the trip.

Houshmandzadeh's coming-out game was Dec. 5 of last season in Baltimore. He had 10 catches for 171 yards and one touchdown.

In the past four games against the Ravens, Houshmandzadeh has 31 catches for 495 yards and two touchdowns.

The 171 yards last season and 147 yesterday are his top two career games.

"T.J. pretty much got all of their corners kicked out of the game, got them benched," said Palmer, whose 302-yard game was the fifth 300-yard passing effort of his career. "Once he gets the ball in his hands, he's so strong and does such a good job wriggling out of tackles."

The only drawback yesterday for Houshmandzadeh was his lost fumble at the end of a 27-yard catch and run. He suffered a blow to the head but returned to catch two passes for 16 yards on the Bengals' last touchdown drive in the fourth quarter.

"Hopefully he's just playing like a professional receiver ought to play," Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said of Houshmandzadeh, a seventh-round pick in 2001 from Oregon State, where he teamed for one season with Johnson. "We have to take care of the ball. He lost a fumble there, and it was a big play. We can't give it back to the other team."

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