Bengals 27

(1-0, 1-0 away)

Browns 13

(0-1, 0-1 home)

1:00 PM ET, September 11, 2005


1 2 3 4 T
CIN 0 17 10 027
CLE 3 7 0 313

Top Performers

Passing: C. Palmer (CIN) - 280 YDS, 2 TD, 1 INT

Rushing: R. Johnson (CIN) - 26 CAR, 126 YDS, 1 TD

Receiving: F. Jackson (CLE) - 8 REC, 128 YDS, 1 TD

Bengals 1-0 under Marvin Lewis for first time

CLEVELAND (AP) -- The locker room was strangely subdued as Cincinnati players quietly peeled off adhesive tape, packed up equipment and dressed. Even gabby wide receiver Chad Johnson had little to say.

The Bengals acted like experienced winners. They played like them, too.

It was over when ...
Carson Palmer threw a 20-yard TD pass to Kevin Walter just before halftime to give Cincinnati a 17-10 lead. The Bengals' 91-yard drive took 12 plays and ate up the final four minutes of the first half.
Game ball goes to ...
Palmer. The third-year quarterback exposed Cleveland's soft secondary, completing 26-of-34 passes for 280 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. A nearly mistake-free game from Palmer helped the Bengals take a first step toward challenging for the AFC North title.
ESPN's take ...
Eric Allen I have high expectations for this tremendous offense. Carson Palmer is a good, young quarterback and they have a great running back in Rudi Johnson to go along with two fantastic receivers. This offense will easily score at least 21 points a game. This team's chances for the playoffs come down to the defense, though. They have to follow the lead of cornerback Tory James to be successful. He has a confidence to go along with his enormous abilities. His numbers stack up against any other CBs in the league. He makes plays and the defense responds to them and him. -- Eric Allen

Carson Palmer threw two touchdown passes and the Bengals opened a season they're confident will be a winning one with an easy 27-13 win over Cleveland, spoiling Romeo Crennel's coaching debut with the Browns.

"It's a huge win for us," Palmer said. "Getting off to a fast start is what we wanted to do."

The Bengals haven't had a winning record since 1990, and their gross ineptitude has made them the NFL's lovable losers. They're the Bungles, a team whose history is outlined by more chaos and calamity than championships.

These Bengals, though, might be a little different. In capturing their first opener since 2001 and their first opener on the road since 1995, they're also 1-0 for the first time in three seasons under coach Marvin Lewis.

Bad starts have doomed Lewis' first two seasons with the Bengals, who began the past two at 1-4 before recovering to go 8-8. Cincinnati's favorable schedule -- its first six opponents went a combined 38-58 in 2004 -- have many believing the Bengals can challenge for the AFC North title.

Lewis isn't quite ready to proclaim his team anything other than improved.

"We are not off to a good start," Lewis said. "We just won one football game. We have a chance to write the script on what a good start is. We play Minnesota next week, and now that is our focus."

Palmer picked apart Cleveland's secondary, finishing 26-of-34 for 280 yards and one interception. He threw a 20-yard TD pass to Kevin Walter just before halftime and connected on an 18-yarder to fullback Jeremi Johnson on the Bengals' opening drive in the third period as the Bengals opened a 24-10 lead.

Before hitting Johnson on third-and-2, Palmer changed his play at the line of scrimmage and then threw in the flat to Johnson. Palmer went 7-for-7 on the drive.

"That was kind of a dagger in the heart for them," Palmer said. "That was a fun drive."

Palmer's only poor decision came on a ball he put up for grabs in Cleveland's end zone with 5:18 left. But by then, the Bengals were in control.

Rudi Johnson rushed for 126 yards on 26 carries and 1-yard TD run, and Shayne Graham kicked two field goals as Cincinnati improved to 5-10 in season openers since '91.

Chad Johnson, who had one of his worst games last season in Cleveland, had nine catches for 91 yards. A year ago, he sent bottles of Pepto-Bismol and handwritten notes to Browns defensive backs, warning he was going to make them feel ill. But the joke backfired when he dropped several passes.

On Sunday, Johnson was sure-handed and close-mouthed. His only problem were leg cramps, which sent him briefly to the locker room.

"This don't mean nothing," Johnson said when asked about the importance of Cincinnati's Week 1 win. "It's Game 1, too soon. Holler at me when we're 5-0 or 7-0, and then we're knocking on the door of the playoffs."

The rebuilt Browns had some nice moments, but not nearly enough to get a first victory for Crennel, New England's former defensive coordinator who spent 24 years as an assistant and now has a giant challenge in front of him.

Cleveland was hurt by costly mistakes, an injury-depleted secondary and had two touchdowns called back by penalties. The Browns dropped to 1-6 in openers since returning to the league in 1999.

"We've got a lot of work to do," Crennel said. "I'm disappointed in the way everyone played. I'm not happy about anything."

Making just his third start since 2003, Browns quarterback Trent Dilfer finished 26-of-43 for 278 yards and one touchdown.

Cleveland's Frisman Jackson caught a 68-yard TD pass and had eight catches for 128 yards. Rookie Braylon Edwards, the Browns' first-round draft pick, had two catches for 16 yards in limited playing time.

Game notes

Dilfer threw a pass in the first quarter that hit umpire Jim Quirk in the head and was caught by Browns center Jeff Faine, who was penalized for "illegal touching." ... Among the Browns most significant injuries were linebacker Matt Stewart (knee), kick returner Joshua Cribbs (knee), cornerback Leigh Bodden (leg) and tight end Steve Heiden (neck stinger). The team had no postgame update on the injuries. ... Bengals LB Marcus Wilkins (head) and Kenny Watson (arm) were hurt.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

1st Downs2616
Passing 1st downs
Rushing 1st downs
1st downs from penalties
3rd down efficiency
4th down efficiency
Total Plays6861
Total Yards420373
Yards per play6.26.1
Total Drives1112
Yards per pass
Interceptions thrown
Sacks-Yards Lost
Rushing Attempts
Yards per rush
Red Zone (Made-Att)0-50-3
Fumbles lost
Interceptions thrown
Defensive / Special Teams TDs00

Passing Leaders


Rushing Leaders


Receiving Leaders


Scoring Summary

cleFG4:41Phil Dawson 21 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 12 plays, 59 yds, 6:15
cinTD13:47Rudi Johnson, 1 yd run (Shayne Graham kick is good)
Drive info: 12 plays, 79 yds, 9:16
cinFG8:50Shayne Graham 23 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 8 plays, 38 yds, 3:16
cleTD5:15Frisman Jackson, 68 yd pass from Trent Dilfer
Drive info: 8 plays, 77 yds, 3:38
cinTD0:52Kevin Walter, 20 yd pass from Carson Palmer (Shayne Graham kick is good)
Drive info: 11 plays, 96 yds, 4:06
cinTD9:55Jeremi Johnson, 18 yd pass from Carson Palmer (Shayne Graham kick is good)
Drive info: 8 plays, 76 yds, 4:59
cinFG8:26Shayne Graham 16 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 4 plays, 7 yds, 1:05
cleFG9:52Phil Dawson 27 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 8 plays, 41 yds, 3:07