Johnson unstoppable, but not his dance

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Associated Press

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Shortly after the game was over, Chad Johnson announced in the Bengals locker room the Buffalo Bills couldn’t stop him.

The NFL officials, well, that’s another story.

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Johnson, the always colorful receiver, scored his first touchdown this preseason in Cincinnati’s 44-31 win over the Bills on Friday night. Yet there was one thing missing: the touchdown dance.

Johnson’s bid to do something — anything, without drawing a flag that would hurt his team — was denied by an official under the NFL’s new rules severely limiting post-TD celebrations. He pleaded with the ref immediately after his 9-yard catch, even offering to pay his fine for keeping the flag in his pocket.

‘‘I was asking him to let me celebrate, that’s what that was, I’m sure you guys knew that,’’ Johnson said. ‘‘But he told me not to. ’Get off the field.’ Just like that.’’

It didn’t matter much: There was enough high-scoring entertainment to keep most fans interested in a mean-nothing game.

Johnson, sporting his new golden mohawk haircut, had five catches for 73 yards in less than a half of playing time, helping Cincinnati (2-0) produce the third-most points in a preseason game in team history — and most since a 45-0 win over Tampa Bay in 1977.

The Bengals defense did the rest, forcing four turnovers in the first half, returning two of them for touchdowns on Dexter Jackson’s 72-yard fumble return and Keiwan Ratliff’s 26-yard interception return.

‘‘Tonight was a fine example of people running to the ball and trying to make plays,’’ Jackson said. ‘‘We’re not where we need to be, but we’re on that road.’’

The Bills (0-2), coming off a 14-13 loss at Carolina last weekend, had a mixed outing. The 44 points they allowed is the fifth-most by a Bills team in preseason, and most since a 45-14 loss at Chicago in 1985.