1:00 PM ET, August 10, 2003
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- Marvin Lewis and Carson Palmer made forgettable NFL debuts Sunday.The new head coach and Heisman Trophy winner were no help to the Cincinnati Bengals in their preseason opener. They bumbled in a 28-13 loss to the New York Jets played through a steady rain.Palmer had two interceptions returned for touchdowns, and the Bungles had their share of miscues -- a botched field goal and extra point attempt, two personal foul penalties and four total turnovers.When asked whether there was one thing he needed to improve upon, Palmer had a simple answer: "Everything."Lewis became the third active black coach in the NFL when he took over for Dick LeBeau in January, hoping to turn around a franchise that has not had a winning season since 1990.They have a long way to go."We knew there would be mistakes, and now I'm excited about watching the video tape and improving on these mistakes," Lewis said.Palmer, who won the Heisman as a senior at Southern California last season, entered the game at the start of the second half and led the Bengals to their two scoring drives.But he also had two passes intercepted and returned for scores.Trailing 14-7 and driving with two minutes remaining, Palmer was intercepted by Wes Bautovich, who went 78 yards for a touchdown to make it 21-7 with 1:44 remaining.On the next possession, Troy Grant intercepted Palmer and went 36 yards for a touchdown to increase the Jets' lead. Palmer threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Chesley Borders with 8 seconds remaining to cap the scoring. He finished 12-of-22 for 140 yards in his NFL debut."He's a young guy, you can't expect too much from him right now," Jets safety Sam Garnes said. "He's going to be good, but he's still learning. It's still tough. No matter how good you are, you still have to learn."Palmer is content learning behind Jon Kitna, who went 4-of-6 for 24 yards in one quarter with a fumbled snap that led to the Jets' first score."Jon is the best quarterback on this team, and I'm only up here cause it goes with being the No. 1 pick and Heisman Trophy winner," Palmer said.The Jets (1-1) were sloppy, too, but took advantage of Kitna's miscue. On the third play of the game Kitna fumbled the snap and defensive tackle Jason Ferguson recovered."I saw the ball come out and I got on it," Ferguson said. "We want the offense on the field as much as possible, either by creating turnovers or forcing three-and-outs."The Jets took over at the Bengals 39, and Chad Pennington completed a 21-yard pass down the middle to Santana Moss to set up a 1-yard touchdown run by LaMont Jordan.They also scored on their first drive last week in their preseason opener against Tampa Bay. The Jets set their goal before every game to score on their first possession."I was very happy with that play because that was the first time I've been able to hit him," Pennington said. "That's exciting for me. I was glad we had a chance to pump one in there to him."Kitna could not generate much more offense, and Corey Dillon only had one carry for 5 yards before leaving in the second series. Jets running back Curtis Martin was in on three plays -- all passing attempts -- but coach Herman Edwards promised Martin will get some carries next week.Pennington went 3-of-8 for 34 yards before giving way to Vinny Testaverde in the second quarter.Testaverde lasted one series, which ended when Kevin Hardy intercepted his pass.Shane Matthews came in for Kitna and went 8-of-11 for 51 yards. He set the Bengals up for a 37-yard field goal attempt in the second quarter, but holder Nick Harris botched the snap and ended up throwing an incomplete pass.Palmer did all he could with third-teamers around him. His first pass was nearly intercepted by Andrew Davison, and his next drive ended when Ray Jackson fumbled and Jets linebacker Khary Campbell recovered.The Jets added to their lead at the start of the fourth quarter, when Chad Brinker scored on a 5-yard touchdown run to make it 14-0.Then Palmer guided the Bengals on a 10-play, 80-yard drive that included a nifty 36-yard completion to Danny Farmer, setting up a 7-yard touchdown run by Jackson to make it 14-7.After the game, Edwards told his good friend Lewis to keep his head up."I told him to continue to believe in the process of how you want to develop your football team and hang in there," Edwards said. "I wished him a lot of luck. I think he's going to do good things there."