Johnson predicts big game

Published 12:02 am Sunday, October 5, 2008

Terrell Owens can gripe all he wants. His buddy Chad Ocho Cinco doesn’t want to hear it.

Only four touchdowns this season? Only one celebration penalty? Only one loss?

Ocho Cinco wishes he had such problems. The receiver formerly known as Chad Johnson is so mired in muck that he can’t even get the NFL to let him wear his new surname on the back of his jersey.

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So, this week, in anticipation of facing T.O. and the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, the rebranded Cincinnati Bengals receiver decided it was time to shake up things. Out went the low-key act of recent months. In came the flamboyant act that’s made him, well, Ocho Cinco.

‘‘I’m not holding nothing back,’’ he said at the start of a 19-minute conference call with Dallas reporters. ‘‘Somebody’s got to pay.’’

Off he went, riffing on a hoped-for trade to the Cowboys: ‘‘They would have to change all of our damn games to pay-per-view because you need to pay to see that (expletive). I’m serious. I’m so serious. They would have to put all the games on pay-per-view. Because you can’t just watch a show like that for free; 81 and 85? Come on, now. Please.’’

He jabbed at his team’s reversal since 2005, ‘‘the year everybody went to jail and got arrested,’’ and the Bengals went 11-5 and made the playoffs: ‘‘Maybe the bad was a good thing. It sounds dumb to say, but look at it. We have cleaned house and nobody is getting in trouble anymore — no DUIs, no arrests. Now we’re getting … whupped. I don’t know. Maybe I should go out, have a drink, get in trouble.’’

And he closed by revealing his TD celebration plans for Sunday:

‘‘I love Dallas so much, I’m going to take my helmet off, pay the fine, and kiss the star. … That’s not a sign of disrespect, is it? That’s a good thing, isn’t it? … I don’t think it’s bad. I think it’s cool. Tell Jerry Jones I said hello. Give me a call some time.’’

The Bengals might as well do things differently considering how their current plan has gone. A loss Sunday and they’ll be 0-5 for the first time since 2002, when they started 0-7 and finished 2-14.

Other possible changes besides Ocho Cinco coming out of his shell: newly signed Cedric Benson getting some carries; Chris Henry catching passes now that his four-game suspension is over; and Carson Palmer starting at quarterback again after missing the last game with a sore elbow.

‘‘Guys are still hungry and feel desperate for a win because we’re not used to this and this isn’t us,’’ said Palmer, perhaps forgetting Cincinnati’s woeful history prior to his arrival. ‘‘It seems bleak from everything you hear in the media and people on the outside of the locker room, the way they’re talking. But in no way is this team going to give up or take any team lightly or not prepare the right way, whatever the case may be. We’re going to get ready to go into Dallas and win.’’

Just the Bengals’ luck, they picked a bad time to try sneaking up on the Cowboys.

Dallas is coming off a 26-24 loss at home to the Washington Redskins that damaged its standing in the NFC East and ruined its dream of sweeping a soft October schedule to be unbeaten going into a Nov. 2 showdown with the New York Giants.

The way the Cowboys lost added to the agony.