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Bengals Give It Their All

September 25, 2006|From the Associated Press

PITTSBURGH — He hated the eight months of exhausting rehabilitation, and the team that made him go through it. Carson Palmer didn't play the way he wanted against the team he dislikes the most, but the result couldn't have been more satisfying.

Alternating between brilliant and awful, the Cincinnati quarterback threw two touchdown passes to T.J. Houshmandzadeh less than a minute apart midway through the fourth quarter after Steelers turnovers, and the unbeaten Bengals rallied for a 28-20 victory over the Super Bowl champions.

"We're a better team than we were last year and we expected to come in here and win this game, but it took everything we had," Bengals running back Rudi Johnson said.

Especially from Palmer, whose focus has been on the Steelers almost since the moment Kimo von Oelhoffen tore apart his knee by rolling atop it early in Pittsburgh's playoff victory in January. Palmer had three fumbles, two interceptions and was sacked six times, yet overcame them with four touchdown passes. He went 18 for 26 for 193 yards.

"I didn't take anything personal into this game," said Palmer, who during the off-season said how much he hated the Steelers. "I didn't come in here thinking, 'It's payback time, let's get these guys.' I came in here thinking it's a divisional game and let's get a win."

Chris Henry, the wide receiver hurt on the same play as Palmer, wasn't as diplomatic.

"We planned on coming back this year and beating Pittsburgh two times," said Henry, who caught Palmer's other two touchdown passes among his five receptions.

For the Bengals (3-0), it's one down and one to go. The Bengals and the Baltimore Ravens (3-0) have two-game leads in the AFC North over the Steelers (1-2), who couldn't withstand a second mediocre game in seven days by their rehabilitating quarterback.

Ben Roethlisberger, recovering from an off-season motorcycle accident and appendicitis attack, was an ineffective 18 for 39 for 209 yards and three interceptions. Kevin Kaesviharn made the third and final pickoff, on a third and 10 from the Bengals 16 with Pittsburgh trying to drive for the tying score in the closing seconds.

The Bengals scored 21 points off Steelers turnovers, Palmer twice hit Henry for touchdowns for a 14-7 halftime lead. Then, after the Steelers seemed in control even while leading only 17-14 in the fourth, Palmer took advantage of fumbles by punt returner Ricardo Colclough and running back Verron Haynes to complete touchdown passes to Houshmandzadeh of nine and 30 yards only 54 seconds apart.

Houshmandzadeh, who had missed two games because of a heel injury, made nine catches for 94 yards.

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