Bengals 20

(2-5, 0-4 away)

Titans 27

(3-5, 1-3 home)

1:00 PM ET, October 31, 2004


1 2 3 4 T
CIN 3 0 10 720
TEN 0 13 14 027

Titans sack harried Palmer four times

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- The Tennessee Titans bought themselves two more weeks of hope at the expense of an old foe they still love to beat.

The Titans rested Steve McNair and his aching chest, and backup Billy Volek responded by throwing for two touchdowns and 210 yards as the Titans beat the Bengals 27-20 Sunday for their first victory at home this season.

Allen's Analysis
Eric Allen Bengals at Titans: Even when McNair returns, is Brown the key to this offense? This is still Steve McNair's team. The presence of Chris Brown will definitely help the Titans, just like RB Eddie George's presence helped the team last season. The Titans need balance to be successful, but like last season this is still McNair's team. The Titans need McNair at the helm of the offense leading them with his arm and legs because without him this team isn't nearly as dangerous. The Titans shouldn't rush McNair back though, because this injury affects his throwing motion. It's definitely time for some rest for McNair.

Eric Allen played cornerback for 14 NFL seasons with the Eagles, Saints and Raiders. He's a regular contributor to Insider.

Gary Anderson kicked two field goals, and Chris Brown ignored an aching left big toe in running for a touchdown and 147 yards, his fifth 100-yard performance this season. With their bye next, the Titans snapped a two-game skid with their ninth victory in 10 games against their old AFC Central foe Cincinnati (2-5).

"If we would've lost this, I hate to say it, but I think the season just would've been totally shot," Titans cornerback Samari Rolle said. "At least now we know we can win at home. We can build some momentum now, rest some people up."

Tennessee (3-5) sacked Carson Palmer four times, hit him repeatedly, batted down four passes behind the line and forced him into an interception and a fumble.

Still, the Titans nearly blew a 14-point lead as Palmer tried to rally the Bengals in the final 2:35, marching them to the Tennessee 9.

But tackle Albert Haynesworth sacked Palmer on first-and-goal, knocking the ball loose, and end Juqua Thomas recovered to seal the victory.

"I should've gone one-two and thrown it out of the back of the end zone, stop the clock and give us a chance on third down," Palmer said.

The Bengals wanted to ride the emotion from their 23-10 victory last week in their first Monday night game since 1992, and looked good on the opening drive as Palmer hit all six passes to set up a 28-yard field goal.

"We didn't play with poise on either side of the football," Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said.

"Up front we had four penalties on the first drive on offense and probably had three or four offsides penalties when we knew he was going to use the cadence to unnerve us," Lewis said of Volek.

The Bengals might have thought they were in luck with McNair wearing warm-ups on the sideline after throwing for 20 TDs against Cincinnati, his most against any NFL team.

Then Brown, who did not practice with a toe so sore he wore a walking boot for protection, wore down the league's worst rushing defense with 32 carries -- even with his toe hurting late in the game. He was back in the boot when talking to reporters, and he said his toe was bigger than before.

"But I knew we had to finish this one off," Brown said.

Tennessee, which had lost five of the last six, kept the Bengals in the game after building leads of 13-3 and 27-13, the last on Brown's 1-yard run at the end of the third quarter.

Safety Madieu Williams pulled Cincinnati within 13-10 after stepping in front of Volek's pass for Derrick Mason and returning the ball 51 yards at the beginning of the third quarter. Shayne Graham later tied the game at 13 with a 50-yard field goal.

After Brown's TD put the Titans up 27-13, Palmer hit T.J. Houshmandzadeh on a short pass that he turned into a 62-yarder to the Tennessee 6 after Titans safety Tank Williams missed the tackle. Rudi Johnson scored on a 6-yard run on the next play.

Palmer finished 20-of-36 for 247 yards, while Johnson had just 57 yards on 17 carries.

Tennessee went three-and-out on three of its final four possessions.

Volek played well enough as he drove the Titans to two field goals that gave them a 6-3 lead. Tennessee held the Bengals to just 17 yards in the second quarter as the Bengals at one point backed themselves from their 35 to the 12 with three straight penalties before going three-and-out.

The Titans led 13-3 at halftime after they ran out the final 6:24 with a drive kept alive twice converting fourth downs, including Volek's 1-yard TD toss to Meier as time expired.<

Game notes

Veteran referee Johnny Grier lasted two plays before limping to the Titans' sideline with a strained right calf. He was replaced by back judge Scott Green, who got Grier's microphone gear after the opening drive. ... Cincinnati safety Kim Herring hurt his right knee in the first half but was able to return and finished the game. ... Titans punter Craig Hentrich's lower back flared up before kickoff, but he averaged 44.2 yards on five punts. He also had a sneak for first down on a fake punt.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Scoring Summary

Drive info: 1 plays, 50 yds, 0:00
Drive info: 1 plays, 50 yds, 0:00
tenTD0:20Chris Brown, 1 yd run
Drive info: 3 plays, 28 yds, 1:33
Drive info: 5 plays, 70 yds, 2:28
Drive info: 3 plays, 28 yds, 1:33
Drive info: 5 plays, 70 yds, 2:28
cinTD14:33Rudi Johnson, 6 yd run
Drive info: 4 plays, 70 yds, 0:31
Drive info: 4 plays, 70 yds, 0:31
tenFG8:38Gary Anderson 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 9 plays, 53 yds, 3:46
cinFG8:50Shayne Graham 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 11 plays, 60 yds, 6:05
cinFG5:00Shayne Graham 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 12 plays, 53 yds, 3:36
tenFG14:31Gary Anderson 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 15 plays, 77 yds, 8:52
Drive info: 16 plays, 70 yds, 6:37
Drive info: 16 plays, 70 yds, 6:37