posted on Aug, 22 2004 @ 08:59 AM
Carson Palmer gave Cincinnati fans more reason to believe this could be a turnaround season for the Bengals.
"We can be very explosive. I think we showed that tonight," Palmer said. "If we stick with our game plan, and guys execute, that's what happens -- you
put up 30 points."
Palmer passed for three touchdowns and set up another with a 48-yard completion to Chad Johnson as the Bengals scored on their first three possessions
and beat the New England Patriots 31-3.
"I hope we're on the way up," Bengals coach Marvin Lewis. "We're getting better. We have a bunch of guys who are smart enough to learn from their
It was a breakthrough game for Palmer and a giddy night for Bengals fans, who cheered Palmer and running back Rudi Johnson, and booed former
Cincinnati running back Corey Dillon -- traded to the Super Bowl champions during the offseason.
Palmer played only the first half and was 12-of-19 for 179 yards.
Tom Brady, New England's two-time Super Bowl MVP, also played a half and was 8-of-13 for 126 yards, with one interception.
"It was an ugly night," Brady said. "Hopefully, this isn't our team. It was a terrible performance all the way around."
Palmer led the Bengals to three quick touchdowns before New England's initial first down.
Rudi Johnson, who rushed 16 times for 76 yards, scored from the 1 to cap a five-play, 69-yard drive that included the long pass to Chad Johnson on the
second play of the game.
The Patriots quickly gave the ball back to Cincinnati, and Palmer led a 56-yard drive that ended with a 13-yard pass to Tony Stewart that made it
New England punted again after Dillon was booed following a carry that resulted in a 1-yard loss. He rushed 11 times for 31 yards.
"I expected that from them," Dillon said. "I don't care about the crowd. I'm more than happy about being here. If I had the opportunity to do the same
thing, I'd do it again."
Dillon, the Bengals' career rushing leader, became unhappy last year and provoked a trade to New England. He threw his equipment into the stands at
Paul Brown Stadium following the season finale.
Palmer also engineered a 75-yard drive, hitting T.J. Houshmandzadeh for a 9-yard score to make it 21-0. After Kevin Kaesviharn intercepted Brady's
pass, Palmer connected with Kenny Watson on a 9-yard pass to make it 28-3 just before the half ended.
The Patriots got a 25-yard field goal by Adam Vinatieri to complete a drive that consumed just over seven minutes. New England had a first down on the
3 yard line, but couldn't get in the end zone.
Shayne Graham added a 38-yard field goal for Cincinnati in the third quarter.
Palmer, the No. 1 pick in the 2003 draft, was given the starting job over Jon Kitna, who took every snap for Cincinnati last year and continues to be
Palmer made up for bad luck in the Bengals' loss Monday at Tampa Bay, when he was 3-of-8 for 74 yards in three series, with one interception.
His numbers would have been better if two catchable passes didn't go through receivers' hands. Palmer's last series that night ended when rookie
running back Chris Perry fumbled.
New England coach Bill Belichick, who said the Patriots' passing game in their preseason opening win over Philadelphia looked like "junior high
schoolyard football," had little more to be happy with this week.
"The Bengals ... were outstanding in every phase of the game, and we didn't do much of anything," Belichick said. "They played aggressive and they
played well, and we didn't do any of those things.
"Obviously, we've got a lot of work to do."
Brady completed passes of 31, 17, 10 and 28 yards in New England's field-goal drive, but he was sacked once and the drive bogged down on the 2 after a
run for no gain by Dillon.
On the Patriots' next possession, Brady appeared to have the Patriots on the move, completing quick passes of 19 and 12 yards. But his next two
attempts were incomplete, and he was sacked a second time by Duane Clemons, forcing a punt.