Palmer drives Bengals past Ravens

From The Associated Press:

BALTIMORE -- In a duel for first place in the AFC North, the Cincinnati Bengals found another way to win a close game.

Carson Palmer threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Andre Caldwell with 22 seconds left to cap an 80-yard drive fueled by Baltimore penalties, and the Bengals escaped with a 17-14 victory Sunday.

All five of Cincinnati's games this season have been decided by seven points for fewer. It appeared as if the Bengals (4-1) were destined to come out on the short end of this one until Palmer masterfully directed the final drive -- with the help of three yellow flags.

An illegal contact penalty against Chris Carr and an unnecessary roughness call against Ray Lewis preceded the topper, a pass interference penalty against Frank Walker on a third-and-16 from the Baltimore 30 (although the infraction was called by the officials against Ed Reed).

On the next play, Palmer found Caldwell over the middle for the game-winning score.

After the following kickoff, thousands of fans directed a derisive chant toward the referee crew.

Baltimore (3-2) has lost two straight after starting 3-0 for the second time in franchise history. The Ravens were limited to one offensive touchdown after averaging 32.5 points in their first four games.

Baltimore trailed 10-7 when Ray Rice took a screen pass from Joe Flacco, then turned upfield with several tacklers in his way. After ducking linebacker Brandon Johnson, the 5-foot-8 running back dipped his left arm and stayed upright by planting his fingers on the artificial turf.

Rice then sprinted into the end zone for his second NFL touchdown.

Cincinnati's Cedric Benson ran for 120 yards, becoming the first player in 40 games to eclipse 100 yards against the Ravens. Palmer was 18 for 31 for 271 yards, and Chad Ochocinco had seven catches for 94 yards.

A 52-yard interception return for a touchdown by Reed gave the Ravens a 7-0 lead in the second quarter. Late in the half, Reed knocked the ball loose from Ochocinco, and Baltimore recovered at its own 16.

The Bengals took a 10-7 lead in the third quarter with an 84-yard drive kept alive by a penalty against Baltimore cornerback Domonique Foxworth, who was called for illegal contact during a third-down play in which Palmer was sacked. Four plays later, Benson broke loose for a 28-yard touchdown run, which put him over 100 for the afternoon.

Cincinnati botched the conversion, but the Ravens were called for illegal formation and Shayne Graham cashed in the extra chance.

The Ravens led 7-3 at halftime despite gaining only 113 yards in the first half, but Reed's stellar play helped Baltimore to the lead.

Palmer completed three passes for 46 yards to Ochocinco during the Bengals' first possession, but a poor snap on a 32-yard field goal try by Graham resulted in a blocked kick by Kelly Gregg.

Baltimore moved quickly the other way before Flacco's effort to thread a pass to Todd Heap between two defenders resulted in an end zone interception by Johnathan Joseph.

That, however, only served to set up Reed's pickoff. The five-time Pro Bowler stepped in front of Ochocinco and scooted down the left sideline for his 12th career touchdown.

Cincinnati closed to 7-3 when Chris Henry's career-long 73-yard reception led to a second-quarter field goal.

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