CLEVELAND - Chad Johnson challenged the Cleveland Browns secondary long before any of the Cincinnati Bengals ever stepped on the field yesterday afternoon at Cleveland Browns Stadium.
The Bengals' talented and brash receiver sent bottles of Pepto-Bismol to members of the Browns secondary. He predicted they would need the stomach-settling medicine after he was done playing against them.
However, Cleveland's defense responded by limiting the Bengals to 189 total yards, including only 131 net passing yards, en route to a 34-17 victory.
Johnson, who dropped several passes from Carson Palmer, was held to just three catches for 37 yards.
But he had no regrets about sending the pink care packages to the Browns.
"How can you second-guess a challenge," Johnson said. "I posed a challenge to the [Browns] secondary and lost. Because I lost one time am I going to second-guess my game?
"I feel the only reason we lost this game is because of me. All those third-down [drops], which should have continued drives, are all on me."
Cleveland defensive back Anthony Henry said the Browns secondary looked forward to yesterday's meeting with Johnson. Henry and Johnson are friends and he never put much into Johnson's Pepto-Bismol prank.
"If it was someone else then I may have taken it personally," said Henry, who took a pass right out of Johnson's hands for an interception. "I've hung out with him at Lakers games and I know him and I know what kind of person he is.
"I didn't take it personally. On the field we're going to compete and it's all about business. Off the field, we'll have fun."
GARCIA FINDS SUPPORT: Browns quarterback Jeff Garcia played his best game of the season. He threw for four touchdowns while completing 16 of 23 passes for 310 yards.
Ironically, two of his three best career passing days before yesterday's game had come against the Bengals when he played with the San Francisco 49ers. He threw for 437 yards against Cincinnati on Dec. 12, 1999, which ranks as his best career performance. Garcia passed for 344 yards against the Bengals on Dec. 14, 2003, his third-best passing performance.
His latest 300-plus yard passing performance earned praise from his teammates.
"He's a playmaker," Cleveland fullback Terrelle Smith said. "He makes plays because he runs around back there and makes things happen.
"Sometimes it gets ugly, but when it's good, it's good."
DAVIS SITS OUT: It took only 13 seconds for Cleveland wideout Andre Davis to end up in the NFL record books.
And it took only a sprained left big toe to sideline him for much of the game following his NFL record-tying 99-yard touchdown catch midway through the second quarter.
Davis finished the day with just the one catch.
Also, Cleveland left guard Kelvin Garmon was lost during the second half due to injury (left qudricep).
Ironically, play was stopped several minutes in the first half after Garmon went down after suffering an apparent concussion. He returned to action shortly after being helped off the field.
BROWNS LOSE CHALLENGE: The success Browns coach Butch Davis has had in replay challenges has only been bested by that of New York Jets coach Herman Edwards.
Davis had been successful on 12 of 26 replay challenges before yesterday's game. His success percentage dipped a little (46 percent to 44 percent) after he challenged a fumble call when Browns running back Lee Suggs lost the football on a run in the first half.
After replay officials reviewed the play it was still ruled a fumble and the Browns were charged with a timeout.
THE OHIO SERIES: The Cleveland-Cincinnati rivalry started 25 years ago when Cincinnati defeated Cleveland 30-27 on Oct. 11, 1970 in the first meeting between the two franchises.
The series has remained competitive. Cleveland leads the series with a 33-29-0 record.
Davis and Lewis each earned his first professional victories in the NFL in this rivalry.
Davis earned his first victory by defeating Cincinnati 20-7 on Sept. 15, 2002 while Lewis broke through for his first coaching victory when the Bengals knocked off the Browns 21-14 on Sept. 28, 2003.