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Johnson, Bengals tear up Vikes' expensive D early

CINCINNATI (AP) -- Chad Johnson went directly from talking to
trashing the Vikings.

Johnson caught a 70-yard touchdown pass on the game's second
play Sunday, and the Cincinnati Bengals had their way during a 37-8
victory over Minnesota that made a statement and raised a question.

Yes, the 2-0 Bengals think they're for real.

"It's right there in front of us," said Johnson, who had seven
catches for 139 yards. "This year we can do something special."

And the 0-2 Vikings? Are they really this bad? So far, yes.

"We have a veteran group with a lot of pride, and we're
embarrassed with the way we're playing," said Daunte Culpepper,
who threw a career-high five interceptions. "I'm determined to fix
it. One thing we've got to do is stay together."

And ignore the talk.

Johnson got his mouth going during pregame introductions,
talking a little friendly trash to Vikings cornerback Fred Smoot.
The receiver had challenged him during the week to show what he's
got.

The Bengals had it all over the Vikings, rolling up 337 yards
and a 27-0 lead in the first half. Johnson topped 100 yards
receiving before halftime, setting the tone for Cincinnati's most
lopsided win in three years.

It was so convincing that coach Marvin Lewis warned his players
not to get carried away.

"I've already warned our guys: Don't let them make you
over-exuberant," Lewis said.

By contrast, Culpepper had a miserable time, throwing those five
interceptions -- three to Deltha O'Neal. The Vikings turned the ball
over seven times in all and didn't get closer than the Bengals'
49-yard line in the first half.

By that point, Johnson didn't need to say anything else. The
numbers said it all.

Carson Palmer completed his first nine passes against a dazed
defense. Palmer went 27-of-40 for 337 yards overall with touchdown
passes to three different receivers. The one to Johnson set the
tone.

He was yapping before the coin toss, sauntering toward the
Vikings bench to yell at Smoot. The cornerback yelled back and made
a "bring-it-on" arm wave.

Fifty-two seconds into the game, Johnson was in the end zone.

The Vikings were slow getting defensive substitutions onto the
field for the second play, and looked confused as the coverage was
called. Smoot lined up in the slot against T.J. Houshmandzadeh,
leaving Johnson covered along the sideline by Antoine Winfield.

Big mistake.

"It was a breakdown," Smoot said. "You can't start a game off
like that. There's no excuse. We've got to stop sugarcoating
things. Everybody's got to get better."

Johnson flew past Winfield and took Palmer's long pass in stride
over the shoulder for a 70-yard touchdown play that left the
Vikings on their heels.

"It opens up the passing game," Palmer said. "When a guy gets
open that early, it definitely puts fear into their hearts."

The Vikings sank a lot of money into their defense in the
offseason, bringing in Smoot, safety Darren Sharper and lineman Pat
Williams. They were helpless in the decisive first half -- the
Bengals didn't even have to punt.

Sharper and Winfield were on the bench with injuries while the
Bengals closed it out in the fourth quarter.

For the second consecutive game, the Vikings' offense couldn't
get out of its own way. Culpepper had three interceptions and two
fumbles in an opening 24-13 loss to Tampa Bay, and repeatedly
forced passes against the Bengals -- one of O'Neal's interceptions
was in the end zone.

The Vikings' offense set numerous franchise records last season
with Randy Moss, and hasn't been the same without him, scoring only
one touchdown in two games. The Vikings couldn't even take
advantage of franchise-record 17 penalties by the Bengals.

When it ended, Johnson sought out Smoot and gave him a warm
embrace.

Talking in his ear the whole time, of course.

"It's love, man," Johnson said. "It's the love of playing the
game with the same passion as you. We had fun out there."

Well, one of them did.

"Yeah, I'm embarrassed," Smoot said.

Game notes
The Vikings had no immediate assessment of several injured
players. WR Nate Burleson (knee), Sharper (knee) and Winfield
(foot) left the game. ... It was Palmer's second-best passing day
in two seasons and his third 300-yard passing game. ... The last
time Cincinnati had seven takeaways was Nov. 6, 1983, at Houston.
... Lewis angrily shoved safety Reggie Myles aside after he got a
penalty for a head-butt on a punt coverage. ... First-round pick
David Pollack lined up offsides twice, negating two other Vikings
fumbles.