Attacking Peanut Yields Sweet Results for Bengals

CHICAGO - The Bears think of Charles Tillman as their No. 1 cornerback. His status might be challenged soon with more efforts like Sunday's in a 24-7 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.

For the second straight game, the Bears' opponent found a way to beat Tillman for a big play in the end zone. In fact, the third-year cornerback gave up two touchdowns and a pass interference penalty to set up another score.

"Personally, me, I've got to be able to pull big plays out," said Tillman.

It was mouthy Bengals wide receiver Chad Johnson who could crow after beating Tillman for an 18-yard touchdown catch. On that pass, Tillman credited quarterback Carson Palmer more than he blamed himself. The ball arrived like a rifle shot between Tillman and safety Mike Brown.

"He made some good throws today," Tillman said of Palmer. "He made some real good, accurate precise precision throws.

"I couldn't have been in a more perfect position than I was. I saw the ball, I tried to stretch out and take my shot to knock it down. It was a perfect throw. It was a great throw by Carson Palmer, a nice catch too." Johnson, who later caught a 40-yard TD pass against cornerback Nathan Vasher, did his share of trash talking during the game, and produced two post-TD end zone celebrations at the Bears' expense. He did push-ups after one and a dance after the other one.

"He's a good receiver," Tillman said. "He talked the talk and he backed it up. All you can do is respect that. A lot of his trash talk is for entertainment and the media portrays it for something worse than it really is.

"He's really not a bad guy and out on the field he's just out there having fun."

Tillman was having no fun in the third quarter when Bengals rookie receiver Chris Henry beat him down the sidelines for a 36-yard TD pass from Palmer to make the score 17-0.

"The second one was my fault," Tillman said. "I misjudged the ball. It was up there a little higher than I expected and I lost it.

"You've just got to forget about it and go on to the next play."

Tillman also let another Bengals receiver get behind him and it resulted in a 35-yard gain that led to another score.

In the first quarter, T.J. Houshmandzadeh got behind Tillman near the Bears' goal line in the middle of the field. To prevent what appeared to be a certain TD catch, Tillman interfered with Houshmandzadeh. The penalty put the Bengals at the Bears' 3-yard line and set up a Shanye Graham 33-yard field goal for a 10-0 Cincinnati lead.

It's the second straight week Tillman has been victimized deep. The Detroit Lions' Roy Williams did it for a 51-yard TD early in the Bears' lone win.

"Peanut had a great training camp," Smith said about Tillman. "He hasn't played well, as well as he can the last couple games. He'll come back. He's a good football player."

Tillman has been referred to by Smith as the team's top corner.

"I take it with a grain of salt," he said. "I'm glad and honored that Lovie feels that I'm a shut-down corner, but it doesn't make me play any more different. I still play the same.

"Once you start thinking about all that is when you start messing up. I go out there and I do the same thing that I've always been doing. I just play my game, not anybody else's game. If he says I'm the No. 1 corner I'm not going to change my style of play."

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