Anderson, Johnson in Pro Bowl

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 19, 2003

CINCINNATI - Right tackle Willie Anderson, the most long-suffering player on the Cincinnati Bengals, and receiver Chad Johnson made their first Pro Bowl on Thursday.

Anderson and Johnson have been cornerstones of the Bengals' turnaround under first-year coach Marvin Lewis. The Bengals (8-6) can win the AFC North by winning their last two games.

Anderson has been through more losses than any other current member of the team, which hasn't had a winning season since 1990. A first-round draft pick in 1996, Anderson was an alternate for the Pro Bowl each of the last two seasons.

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''I'm thankful it came this way instead of going 2-14 and going,'' Anderson said. ''Everybody wants to say that I should have made it (before), but I'm thankful that it came this way and that we're in the hunt to be playing in the playoffs. I'll be much more satisfied to be playing in January than to be worried about playing in February.''

When close friend Takeo Spikes chose to leave the Bengals for Buffalo in the offseason so he could play for a winning team, Anderson stayed and enjoyed the team's resurgence. Spikes also made his first Pro Bowl on Thursday, but the Bills are out of playoff contention.

Anderson has started 62 consecutive games and played in 124 overall with the Bengals, the most by anyone on the roster. He's the third Cincinnati offensive lineman to make the Pro Bowl, joining Anthony Munoz and Max Montoya.

Johnson has emerged as one of the NFL's most dangerous and most flashy receivers in his third season. He leads the AFC in receiving with 1,211 yards, and is fifth with 79 catches.

Johnson is 63 yards shy of the single-season franchise record, set by Eddie Brown in 1988.

The chatty receiver also has been singled out by the league for his scripted celebrations. He was fined $10,000 for holding up a sign after a touchdown last Sunday against San Francisco. He also got two $5,000 fines for touchdown celebrations earlier in the season.

''The Pro Bowl is nice and I worked hard to get here, but I didn't get here by myself,'' Johnson said, acknowledging his teammates' and coaches' help. ''I hate that this is an individual thing.''

Quarterback Jon Kitna and kick returner Peter Warrick were second alternates for the team.