The Bengals are back in the race for a playoff spot in the AFC, and Sunday vs the Raiders they took out their former first-round QB in Carson Palmer in a 34-10 win.
Palmer’s eventual replacement at QB – Andy Dalton, went for threw three touchdown passes and outperformed Palmer in the win to get the Bengals to 6-5.
It was the third straight win for the Bengals, who now are tied with the Steelers for the final playoff spot with five games left to play.
Dalton threw for 210 yards on 16-of-30 attempts for the Bengals.
“Andy played very efficiently today,” Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said. “He got us in and out of the right things and handled the line of scrimmage very well.”
The red-hot Dalton has accounted for nine passing touchdowns with no interceptions during the winning stretch. BenJarvus Green-Ellis carried the ball 19 times for 129 yards and a score in the victory.
“Our ability to run the football really paid dividends,” Lewis said.
Palmer, a seven-year Bengal, was booed vehemently on Oakland’s first offensive possession. He finished 19-of-34 for 146 yards with a touchdown and an interception for the Raiders (3-8), who have dropped four consecutive contests for the first time since 2008.
“You can’t block things like that out,” Palmer said of the booing. “But I prepared myself for that.”
The two-time Pro Bowler was the No. 1 overall selection by the Bengals in 2003 after winning the Heisman at Southern Cal and helped the moribund franchise to a pair of division titles in 2005 and 2009.
After a 4-12 campaign in 2010, though, Palmer wanted out, but ownership refused to oblige. Palmer held out in 2011 before finally being dealt to Oakland midway through last season for a 2012 first-round pick and a 2013 conditional selection.
Trailing 24-0 at the break, Sebastian Janikowski nailed a 55-yard field goal to cap Oakland’s opening march of the second half and Palmer fired a 20-yard TD pass to Danarius Moore later in the third stanza to cut the deficit to 24-10.
Things got interesting following a Bengals three-and-out, but Palmer fumbled on the second snap of Oakland’s next series.
Outside linebacker Manny Lawson flew off the right edge and strip-sacked Palmer from behind and fellow linebacker Rey Maualuga pounced on the loose football.
The miscue led to a 20-yard Mike Nugent field goal early in the fourth and Jermaine Gresham’s TD catch with 3:39 left capped the scoring.
Earlier, Cincinnati jumped out to a 14-0 lead after outgaining the Raiders, 165-18, in the opening frame.
Green-Ellis broke off a 49-yard run down to the one-yard line before scoring two plays later to conclude the Bengals’ opening 5-play, 58-yard trek.
Following a Raiders three-and-out, Dalton found A.J. Green for a 44-yard completion and then hit Gresham for a 27-yard gain to the two before flipping a 2-yard score to Mohamed Sanu.
Early in the second quarter after another Oakland three-and-out, the Bengals found the end zone again when Dalton capped a nearly six-minute, 13-play, 89- yard drive with another TD pass to Sanu, this one for five yards.
Nugent missed a 48-yard field goal with 45 seconds left in the half, but quickly got another chance at a long kick.
Palmer finally got the Raiders across midfield but his pass on the fifth play of the ensuing series was tipped and intercepted by Chris Crocker, who returned the pick back to the Oakland 48-yard line.
Sanu hauled in an 11-yard reception before Nugent split the uprights from 55 yards away as time expired to make it 24-0.