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 CINCINNATI (AP) -Chad Johnson is taking the blame.
After looking at video of the interception that scuttled the Cincinnati Bengals' comeback Monday night, the Pro Bowl receiver decided it was his fault after all.
Johnson and quarterback Carson Palmer exchanged words on the field after Asante Samuel's interception near the goal line snuffed out a drive late in the first half of New England's 34-13 win. Johnson kept at it on the bench, and walked to the locker room at halftime still sniping at Palmer.
The dispute became the defining moment of a loss that dropped the Bengals to 1-3. After the game, coach Marvin Lewis screamed at his players for being selfish, though he didn't single out anyone.
So, who was to blame?
``We're both emotional people,'' Johnson said Wednesday. ``The situation that happened out there was my fault.''
On the game-turning play, Johnson lined up to the right and ran down the middle of the field. Palmer threw the ball to his left, evidently expecting him to cut in front of Samuel for the catch. Johnson kept going, allowing Samuel to step up and make the easy interception.
Although Palmer blamed himself for the miscommunication, he seemed to be shielding his top receiver. Johnson thought the quarterback was at fault - until he watched the play on video.
``For one, I was too deep on the route,'' Johnson said. ``Two, I didn't get across the guy's face like I should have. We watched film the next day. I didn't do what I was supposed to do.
``In that situation, it's a trust route. He's not really looking at me, he's letting the ball go. And right now, I've put him in the situation where I have to gain his trust back on plays of that nature.''
His argument with Palmer - and receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh's outburst to Lewis after a failed third-down play - were signs of a team in turmoil. Lewis called a team meeting for Tuesday, usually, the players' day off, to clear the air.
Players said the meeting was more about how they're executing play than how they're getting along. Lewis went over their mistakes on video, pointing out what needs to get fixed during the team's bye week.
His tone was different.
``Yelling only does so much,'' Palmer said. ``And that's what Marvin is so great at, picking his times when to be aggressive and fired up, and then when to just put it up on film and say, 'This is the mistake, this is how you fix it, and this is what happens when we do fix it.' That was kind of the theme of the meeting.''
Lewis was unusually upbeat Wednesday, joking about some of the reporters' antiquated tape recorders before their interview session. He said reporters won't be allowed to wait right outside the locker room doors after games anymore, preventing them from hearing any more of his harangues.
``We won't do that anymore,'' he said, chuckling. ``You'll never hear what I say again. You can write that down.''
Will his approach to his underachieving team change?
``I don't know if that changes,'' Lewis said. ``Half of this thing is always psychological. It's physical, it's mental. It all goes hand-in-hand.
``These aren't a bunch of little girls. I don't think we have to go out and raise up their psyche. They're generally big, bold men, which can sometimes be our issue. Big, bold men have to do it right all the time, consistently. We didn't beat our chests when we were 1-0, and we're certainly not beating our chests now.''
Johnson had his left foot in a protective boot Wednesday, a precaution with his sore ankle. Johnson twisted the ankle when he made a cut during the fourth quarter.
``It's not as bad as it looks,'' Johnson said. ``It's mild, not even a sprain. You know how you sprain it but you don't sprain it all the way? It's one of those.''

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