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(Sunday, September 26th)
Final Score: Cincinnati 20, Carolina 7
Charlotte, NC (Sports Network) - Cedric Benson scored a pair of touchdowns, and the Cincinnati Bengals dominated the time of possession in a 20-7 victory over the Carolina Panthers.
In wet conditions, the Bengals (2-1) were able to take advantage of four Carolina turnovers to hold the ball for 36:22 of the game's 60 minutes. Benson finished with 81 yards rushing on 27 carries and added a seven-yard receiving score that all but sealed the outcome with eight minutes remaining.
Carson Palmer struggled to complete passes, finishing 19-of-37 for 195 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions, as Cincinnati won for the second straight week following a season-opening loss in New England. Jermaine Gresham hauled in four passes for 59 yards in the win.
"I think the biggest thing is you've got to keep playing the game," said Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis. "We're not always as good as we want to be or as good as we will be. A lot of good things to learn from. We had the early turnovers, but we were able to overcome them. Getting a win on the road is good."
Jimmy Clausen made his first career start for the Panthers (0-3) and struggled in the subpar conditions, completing just 16-of-33 passes for 188 yards with an interception. The Panthers are now the only team in the NFL to lose all three of their games thus far by 10 or more points.
DeAngelo Williams ran 10 times for 64 yards, while Jonathan Stewart found the end zone in defeat. Mike Goodson was the team's leading receiver with four catches for 47 yards.
"We've been averaging over four turnovers in three ball games. You're not going to win many ball games when you have four turnovers and score seven points," said Panthers head coach John Fox. "We did make a couple plays, and we missed on a few opportunities. We're not at the luxury of scoring 28 points, so we have to take advantage of our opportunities."
On a field that was soaked because of some bad weather, both teams committed a turnover within the first 1 1/2 minutes of the game.
After a pair of punts ensued, the Bengals finally got on the board with an eight-play, 53-yard drive. Palmer hit Gresham on a short pass, and the tight end scampered 27 yards to the Carolina 26. A pass interference penalty in the end zone later put the ball at the one-yard line, and Benson ran around the left end for a touchdown and 7-0 lead with 4 1/2 minutes on the clock.
Two of the final three plays from scrimmage in the quarter went for interceptions, as the teams continued to struggle with the saturated grass.
To battle the problem, the Bengals went to the ground game on a drive that began on Carolina's 42. All but two of the 27 yards gained on the series came on the ground, and Mike Nugent's 33-yard field goal made it 10-0.
The Panthers avoided a potential disaster late in the first half. With under a minute left, Carolina was clearly attempting to run out the clock, but instead of kneeling, they handed the ball off, and Cincinnati ended up recovering a fumble. The Bengals, however, were unable to cash in before time expired.
In the second half, the hosts finally got going on offense.
On their second touch, the Panthers used three straight completions from Clausen to gain 42 yards. After a roughing the passer penalty on the last of the three throws, Carolina found itself at the Cincinnati 16. Williams rushed up the middle for 15 yards, nearly getting into the end zone, and Stewart scored on the next play for a 10-7 contest with just over eight minutes left in the third.
The Bengals were able to push their lead back to six early in the fourth quarter, as Nugent booted a 50-yard field goal.
Carolina was moving the ball effectively on its second possession of the final quarter, but Stewart fumbled the ball away near the Panthers' 40, and Cincinnati picked it up. Three plays later, the Bengals found the end zone on a seven-yard toss from Palmer to Benson for a 20-7 lead with 8:11 remaining.
The Panthers got the ball inside the Cincinnati 40 on their next drive, but Clausen threw incomplete on 4th-and-2 with four minutes left to turn the ball over.
Carolina had a last-ditch effort in the final two minutes to point some more points on the board, but Clausen's pass on 4th-and-17 from the Cincinnati 17 fell incomplete. Palmer kneeled the ball three times to end the game.
The all-time series between the teams is tied, 2-2...The Bengals snapped a five-game road losing streak that dated back to last season...Clausen completed just one pass in the first half and fumbled three times, losing two...Carolina went a combined 2-for-13 on third and fourth down conversions, while the Bengals went 7-of-19.
09/26 20:16:40 ET