Palmer rallies Bengals past Ravens 27-26

NFL.com wire reports

BALTIMORE (Dec. 5, 2004) -- Carson Palmer capped his finest day in the NFL with an appropriate ending to an improbable comeback.

Down by 17 points entering the fourth quarter, the Bengals pierced the proud defense of the Baltimore Ravens for 24 points over the final 15 minutes and escaped with a 27-26 victory.

Shayne Graham kicked a 24-yard field goal as time expired, giving the Bengals their first win in Baltimore in eight tries since 1996.

Matt Stover's fourth field goal put Baltimore up 26-24 with 1:42 left, but Palmer calmly drove Cincinnati (6-6) into position for the winning kick, covering 60 yards in seven plays.

A 32-yard pass to T.J. Houshmandzadeh and a 22-yarder to Chad Johnson were the key plays in the drive.

Palmer, a second-year pro, went 29-for-36 for a career-high 382 yards. Houshmandzadeh had 10 catches for 171 yards and Johnson amassed 161 yards on his 10 receptions.

Before Sunday, the Bengals had been outscored 73-50 in the fourth quarter.

After scoring 58 points one week earlier against Cleveland, the Bengals could muster only a field goal through the opening 45 minutes. But Palmer brought Cincinnati back, passing for 200 yards and three touchdowns during the wild fourth quarter.

Chester Taylor ran for 139 yards and a touchdown in place of the injured Jamal Lewis, but it wasn't enough for the Ravens (7-5).

Baltimore took a 20-3 lead late in the third quarter when Ed Reed intercepted an overthrow by Palmer and took it 21 yards before fumbling. Teammate Chris McAlister scooped up the loose ball and took it 64 yards into the end zone, breaking several tackles along the way.

At that point, the Bengals appeared doomed to yet another lopsided defeat in Baltimore. But Palmer had other plans.

He followed a muffed punt by Ravens rookie B.J. Sams with a 3-yard touchdown pass to Johnson, then tossed a 12-yarder to Johnson to bring Cincinnati to 20-17.

Stover answered with a field goal, but a 9-yard TD pass from Palmer to Houshmandzadeh put the Bengals in front 24-23 with 5:38 left.

Following a lackluster first half dominated by both defenses, the Ravens moved 85 yards on 12 plays in the opening drive of the third quarter to go up 13-3. Kyle Boller went 5-for-5 for 46 yards, including a 13-yarder to Taylor on a third-and-9 play, and Taylor capped the drive with a 1-yard plunge.

The Bengals' first possession of the game ended when Reed forced a fumble by tight end Matt Schobel and took the ball 25 yards to the Cincinnati 25, setting up a 20-yard field goal by Stover.

With 12:34 left in the first half the Bengals had a 102-42 edge in offensive yards but nothing to show for it. After moving from its own 31 to the Baltimore 35, Graham was short on a 53-yard field goal try.

But Graham made it 3-all late in the second quarter, kicking a 41-yard field goal after Palmer connected with Johnson on a 51-yard completion.

Boller then moved the Ravens 78 yards in a beat-the-clock drive, going 6-for-11 (including three spikes) before Stover kicked a 22-yard field goal with 4 seconds left in the half.