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Judge (writer, not judicial) takes Chad Johnson to task's Clark Judge takes Chad Johnson to task. While he doesn't specifically nominate Chad Johnson as the reason the Bengals faltered down the stretch run in 2006, he didn't give Johnson any breaks either.

If you think there's a correlation, you must have been listening to Lewis, because he's done his homework on the subject. And what he discovered is that Ocho Cinco delivered Mucho Nada the last three games of 2006, none of which the Bengals won.

You can look it up. In one game he had four catches; in the two others he had three apiece. He never had more than 53 yards in receptions, and he didn't score.

Bottom line: An impact player he wasn't.

Now, let's get something straight: I'm not suggesting Johnson was responsible for the three-game plunge that cost his team a playoff spot. There were plenty of strange things going on, including a missed field goal that cost the Bengals one game and a botched extra point that cost them another.

What I am suggesting is that Johnson disappeared. If, as he proclaims, he's one of the game's elite receivers, then he should play like one when it counts. And he didn't.

Trust me, that didn't go unnoticed, and I know because I spoke with the head coach who, as it so happens, also spoke to Chad Johnson.

"He knows that the last three games it was: How many balls did you catch? And how many did you drop?" said Lewis. "And the last three the year before. How many did you drop and how many did you catch? And the year before that.

"So we showed it to him statistically. I showed it to him last year before the last game of the year. Graphically and statistically, there is something to when your team can count on you and when you should perform at your finest. So where are you doing it?"

I think the error Judge makes is that he's pushing too hard to point out Johnson's contributions (or lack thereof) against him. Fact is, Judge mentioned the colossal special team's failures like post-it notes. Sure, we could play the if game all day. "If Chad Johnson caught more passes for touchdowns, the Bengals win." I can do one better, "if the Bengals allow less 42-point second halves, they're in the playoffs." Turn those failures -- back to the special teams examples -- into success stories and the Bengals are 10-6 and the story is that Special Teams came through under the pressure. True, Johnson, statistically, was ineffective. True, Lewis challenged Johnson to have a better stretch run than 2006. I'm not arguing against any of that. But Judge shouldn't easily pitch away those errors like the wrapper of a McDonald's cheeseburger. Especially if we're going to target Johnson in some blame game that doesn't suggest "Johnson was responsible for the three-game plunge."

The breakdown of Johnson's performances when the Bengals win or lose.

In games the Bengals won since 2004.

SEASON Receptions Yards TDs Avg. Rec. Avg. Yrds
2006 44 715 4 5.5 89.4
2005 67 925 6 6 84.1
2004 57 748 6 7.1 93.5
27 Games 168 2,388 16 6.2 88.4

In games the Bengals lost since 2004.

SEASON Receptions Yards TDs Avg. Rec. Avg. Yrds
2006 43 654 3 5.3 81
2005 30 507 3 6 101.4
2004 38 526 3 4.75 67.75
21 Games 111 1,687 9 5.3 80.3