Johnson and Johnson Will Not Surprise the Chiefs

The unbeaten Chiefs appreciate the wake-up call, thank you very much, but they really didn't need Chad Johnson's guarantee of a Bengals victory to get them ready for Sunday's game in Cincinnati's Paul Brown Stadium.

Kansas City's focus on the business at hand has been consistent throughout the nine games of this dream season to date. In that sense, they probably weren't doing to be caught looking beyond what could be a gaping hole in the road.

They were well aware, for example, that they weren't facing your father's Bengals. They knew all about Cincinnati's three consecutive home victories (over Baltimore, Seattle and Houston) and wins in four of their last six games.

They'd also heard of the storybook ascension of a guy named Rudi. Little-used running back Rudi Johnson captured their attention by rushing a club-record 43 times for 182 yards in last week's Bengals win over Houston. If ever there was a Hollywood script for an upset of the NFL's last unbeaten team, it figures it would involve a guy named Rudi.

"To have a guy who wasn't a starter at the beginning of the season come in and do the things Rudi Johnson did last week is phenomenal," said cornerback Eric Warfield. "To have a star back like Corey Dillon go out and to see their running game improve, they have to be doing something right. To give a guy who wasn't a starter 43 carries, you've got to have a lot of confidence in the guy."

Added coach Dick Vermeil: "(Johnson) is a downhill runner who'll do a lot of cutback running. He'll test the discipline of your run defense, just like the Ravens did (in gashing the Chiefs for 202 rushing yards in Week Four). We broke down some in the cutback phase of our defense and allowed Jamal (Lewis) to break some runs he shouldn't have gotten."

And yes, the Chiefs understood well how much a Cincinnati upset would mean to the Bengals bid to return to NFL respectability under first-year coach Marvin Lewis.

"They've definitely improved this year," noted guard Brian Waters. "In their minds this will be their Super Bowl. If they win, they'll live in immortality."

Even so, Johnson's guarantee caught their attention. It won't make or break the game, of course, but Johnson's contention that the Chiefs will remain unbeaten "until they come in here Sunday" prompted even Vermeil to shoot back with a dig of his own.

"Hey, maybe they can back it up," he said. "They're playing awfully well. They're ranked higher than we are in some areas. They've done a good job."

Having said that, Vermeil couldn't resist applying the needle.

"It's time for them to do a good job," he added. "They've been drafting No. 1 with poor records for a long time. Sooner or later those guys ought to stand up and play."

Game on!

SERIES HISTORY: 21st meeting. Kansas City leads the series 11-9 with victories in seven of the last 10 meetings. But the two teams haven't played since 1993, and the Chiefs haven't played on the banks of the Ohio River since 1987.


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