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Bengals blast Palmer, Raiders in testy affair

The SportsXchange

CINCINNATI -- Cincinnati Bengals fans gave Carson Palmer a rude welcome back in his first trip to Paul Brown Stadium since being traded to the Oakland last year. The Bengals were even less hospitable to the Raiders.

Cincinnati scored on three of its first four possessions and won its consecutive straight game, 34-10, in a fight-marred game at Paul Brown Stadium.

Bengals left tackle Andrew Whitworth and Raiders defensive linemen Tommy Kelly and Lamarr Houston were ejected with 7:16 left in the fourth quarter following a fight that erupted one play after an inadvertent whistle denied Oakland a fumble recovery and possible touchdown.

Whitworth responded to Houston slamming Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton to the ground in a dead-ball situation by going after Houston, who turned and met up with Whitworth face to face. Kelly subsequently joined the fray.

Dalton, drafted in the second round in 2011 to replace disgruntled holdout Palmer, completed 16 of 30 passes for 210 yards and three touchdowns. Bengals running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis rushed 19 times for 129 yards and a touchdown as Cincinnati improved to 6-5 to keep pace in the AFC playoff chase.

Cincinnati is tied with Pittsburgh for the sixth and final AFC playoff spot, although the Steelers currently hold the head-to-head tiebreaker against the Bengals. The teams play again in Pittsburgh on Dec. 23.

Oakland (3-8) took its fourth straight loss.

Palmer completed 19 of 34 passes for 146 yards and one touchdown. He was sacked four times, lost one fumble and was intercepted once. Cincinnati was credited with eight other hits on Palmer that weren't sacks. The less-than-capacity crowd of 56,503 heartily booed Palmer every time he took the field.

"We had a little grudge with the situation, so we wanted to get back there and make him uncomfortable in the pocket," Cincinnati defensive end Carlos Dunlap said.

The Bengals drafted Palmer with the first overall pick in 2003, and he led them to AFC North titles in 2005 and 2009 but asked for a trade following the 2010 season. The Bengals eventually gave in to his demands and traded him to Oakland on Oct. 18, 2011, for the Raiders' first-round draft choice this year and a second-round pick in 2013. They used the first-round pick to select cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick.

"Not a lot went right from start to finish," Palmer said of Sunday's game. "You obviously hear (the boos), and you can't block things like that out, but I prepared myself for that and knew that's what I was coming into. Any time you go into an opposing stadium, you're going to get booed. That's what home teams do."

Cincinnati led 24-0 at halftime. Green-Ellis scored on a 1-yard run, and Dalton threw touchdown passes of 2 and 5 yards to rookie wide receiver Mohamed Sanu.

Palmer was sacked twice on Oakland's opening series, first by defensive tackle Geno Atkins and then by defensive end Michael Johnson. Cincinnati limited Oakland to 83 yards of offense in the first half and just 218 yards for the game.

"We'd been in practice with Carson for many years here," Cincinnati defensive tackle Domata Peko said. "We knew we had to get pressure in his face, and we were getting after it today. That was part of our game plan, to get pressure on him because we knew when he has people in his face, he tends to overthrow balls."

Oakland trailed 27-10 in the fourth quarter when Dalton completed a pass to Sanu on a third-and-6 from the Cincinnati 20. Oakland cornerback Joselio Hanson stripped the ball free from Sanu, knocking it toward the Oakland sideline at the 25 and hustling to deflect the ball back into the field of play. Safety Tyvon Branch gained possession and ran the ball into the end zone for an apparent touchdown.

The officiating crew, led by referee Al Riveron, discussed the play for a few minutes before ruling an inadvertent whistle had blown the play dead. The officials gave Cincinnati the option of taking the ball at that spot or retrying the third down. The Bengals chose to replay the down. After a penalty against the Bengals for having too many men in the huddle, Dalton completed a 48-yard pass to A.J. Green to the Oakland 37.

Dalton capped the drive with a 7-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jermaine Gresham with 3:39 remaining.

"I at least thought it was going to be fourth down because he didn't get the first down," Hanson said. "I thought it was a bad call. Like I said, at least it's fourth down, it's a dead ball and he didn't get the first down. You don't give a team another chance to get the first down. It's tough enough to stop them with three downs, so to give them four downs, it's tough to give them another chance."

Green caught three passes for 111 yards but did not catch a touchdown pass for the first time since Week 1. His nine consecutive games with a touchdown are a single-season franchise record.

Cincinnati ends a three-game swing against the AFC West next Sunday when it travels to San Diego. The Raiders return home to face Cleveland.

NOTES: The Bengals have won all three games in their current streak by at least 18 points. It's the first time they've had such a streak since 1976. ... Oakland has not led in a game for the last 207 minutes, nine seconds of play. The Raiders led Tampa Bay 10-7 at halftime on Nov. 4 before the Buccaneers went ahead 14-10 with 12:09 left in the third quarter of that game. ... Phillip Wheeler got Oakland's 12th sack of the season in the third quarter when he dropped Dalton for an 8-yard loss. The Raiders entered the game with the fewest sacks in the NFL but had two Sunday, the other by Matt Shaughnessy. ... Green-Ellis posted consecutive 100-yard rushing games for the first time in his career. He had runs of 48 and 39 yards, getting stopped at the 1-yard line both times. ... Cincinnati kicker Mike Nugent made a 55-yard field goal on the final play of the first half. It was his career long, and it equaled the Cincinnati franchise record set by Chris Bahr on Sept. 23, 1979.

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