BALTIMORE (AP) -- First, Carson Palmer tossed the ball all over
the field during his finest day in the NFL.
Then, after leading the Cincinnati Bengals to an improbable
comeback victory, he delved out the credit to everyone around him
in the locker room.
Palmer threw for 200 yards and three touchdowns in the fourth
quarter, and the Bengals rallied from a 17-point deficit to beat
the Baltimore Ravens 27-26 Sunday.
Shayne Graham kicked a 24-yard field goal as time expired,
giving the Bengals their first win in Baltimore in eight tries
"It was important to do this against a division team, and to
exorcise another demon here today," said Bengals second-year coach
Marvin Lewis, who was Baltimore's defensive coordinator from
It was also Cincinnati's first road victory against a team with
a winning record since 1990, and marked the second-biggest comeback
on the road in franchise history -- second only to an 18-point rally
in 1996 against Baltimore.
Matt Stover's fourth field goal put the Ravens up 26-24 with
1:42 left, but Palmer calmly drove Cincinnati (6-6) into position
for the winning kick, covering 60 yards in seven plays.
A 32-yard pass to T.J. Houshmandzadeh and a 22-yarder to Chad
Johnson were the key plays in the drive.
Palmer, a second-year pro, went 29-for-36 for a career-high 382
yards. Houshmandzadeh had 10 catches for 171 yards and Johnson
amassed 161 yards on his 10 receptions.
"T.J. was making plays. Chad was making plays," Palmer said.
"And when you give your quarterback a chance to throw the ball
like that, against probably the best front seven in this game,
those guys are going to get open. The O-line played lights out, and
we ended up winning."
Before Sunday, the Bengals had been outscored 73-50 in the
"Our goal is to make the playoffs, and we couldn't have lost
this game and still had that goal," Houshmandzadeh said.
After scoring 58 points one week earlier against Cleveland, the
Bengals could muster only a field goal through the opening 45
minutes. But Palmer brought Cincinnati back.
"I think that was definitely a breakout game for him," Bengals
guard Eric Steinbach said. "He just led the huddle. We had to
score quick, and that's what we did."
"Give credit to the Bengals," Baltimore coach Brian Billick
said. "They fought back from every situation."
The loss all but ended the Ravens' bid to repeat as AFC North
champions and endangered their odds of reaching the playoffs as a
"We've got a real uphill climb," Billick conceded.
Baltimore took a 20-3 lead late in the third quarter when Ed
Reed intercepted an overthrow by Palmer and took it 21 yards before
fumbling. Teammate Chris McAlister scooped up the loose ball and
took it 64 yards into the end zone, breaking several tackles along
At that point, the Bengals appeared doomed to yet another
lopsided defeat in Baltimore. But Palmer had other plans.
He followed a muffed punt by Ravens rookie B.J. Sams with a
13-yard touchdown pass to Johnson, then tossed a 12-yarder to
Johnson to bring Cincinnati to 20-17.
Stover answered with a field goal, but a 9-yard TD pass from
Palmer to Houshmandzadeh put the Bengals in front 24-23 with 5:38
"It would be nice to say it was just one thing, but it
wasn't," Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Nolan said. "We played
poorly, and not in just one area."
Following a lackluster first half dominated by both defenses,
the Ravens moved 85 yards on 12 plays in the opening drive of the
third quarter to go up 13-3. Kyle Boller went 5-for-5 for 46 yards,
including a 13-yarder to Taylor on a third-and-9 play, and Taylor
capped the drive with a 1-yard plunge.
Boller went 19-for-33 for 172 yards, but was clearly outdone by
Palmer, who bestowed a share of the credit to offensive coordinator
"Coach Bratkowski called a phenomenal game," Palmer said. "He
was guessing right, getting T.J. open, getting Chad open, running
the ball at the right time and then backing out."
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