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CINCINNATI 16, HOUSTON 10

Bengals Bloody but Unbeaten

October 03, 2005|From Associated Press

CINCINNATI — Carson Palmer's shoulder bore a nasty red scrape. Blood trickled from an inch-long gash on the bridge of Willie Anderson's nose. Chad Johnson wore a bandage above his skinned knee.

Cincinnati was beaten up, but still unbeaten.

The Bengals improved to 4-0 for the first time since 1988 -- the last time they made the Super Bowl -- with a 16-10 victory Sunday over the Houston Texans, who couldn't take advantage of their penalties or their pain.

"Everybody was going with some type of injury," said Anderson, a Pro Bowl right tackle who threw his back out before kickoff and hurt his nose during the game. "That's the type of character this team has now."

The Bengals had 14 penalties for 117 yards -- one of them wiped out T.J. Houshmandzadeh's touchdown catch -- and lost both of their veteran centers to knee injuries in the second quarter.

They absorbed the penalties, shuffled the line and gritted it out.

"We had some dumb mistakes," Palmer said. "We're not always perfect."

But so far, good enough.

Houshmandzadeh, who refuses to dance after a touchdown, helped sustain the Bengals' best start since the days of the Ickey Shuffle. He caught eight passes for 105 yards, steadying an offense that had to grind it out for the first time all season.

Shayne Graham's 27-yard field goal with 5:04 left broke a 10-10 tie, and David Carr's disputed fumble with 3:14 to go sent Houston to its first 0-3 start in its four seasons.

Carr was hit by Justin Smith while his arm was cocked, and the ball slipped out of his hand as he started an awkward throwing motion. John Thornton fell on the ball, and referee Larry Nemmers upheld the call on review, costing Houston its final timeout.

The Texans thought Carr's arm was going forward, so it should have been an incomplete pass.

"We all thought it was going to be overturned," right tackle Todd Wade said. "That's why we stayed on the field.."

Taking advantage of the game's only turnover, Graham kicked another field goal from 46 yards. Six plays later, Carr was sacked on what was supposed to be a desperation throw from midfield as time ran out.

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