Benson Bowls over Bears


Brandon Johnson and the Bengals bottled up the Bears all afternoon. (Bengals photo)

Updated: 7 p.m.

The Bengals offense came out crisper than at any point since the 2006 season Sunday when quarterback Carson Palmer buried the Bears with points on all seven of his possessions as he pitched five touchdown passes to four different receivers while leading the Bengals to a 45-10 win before a giddy full house of 64,900 at Paul Brown Stadium.

Fittingly it was Bengals running back Cedric Benson punctuating the Benson Bowl with a one-yard touchdown run three seconds into the fourth quarter behind defensive tackle turned fullback Domata Peko to get to 45 points, a bruising reminder to the Bears just how much they've missed since they cut Benson last summer.

Benson made it hurt with a career-high 189 yards on 37 carries, the biggest day by a Bengals back since Rudi Johnson broke the 200-yard mark against Cleveland in 2004 and the eighth-best rushing game in club history.

As the crowd careened into the fourth quarter, they serenaded Benson, the Texas icon, with the Ohio state song of "Hang on Sloopy" after he ended the third quarter with a 26-yard burst up the middle on which he accelerated past the linebackers.

Palmer fired his fifth touchdown pass with four minutes left for wide receiver Chad Ochocinco's second touchdown catch of the day, a 13-yarder that Palmer made possible by gunning it into the hole of the zone despite getting blown up by a blitz.

It marked The Ocho's 10th catch of the day for 118 yards, which gave him 573 yards for the season, 33 more than he had all last year.

But the Bengals weren't done, as safety Chris Crocker came up with the defense's fourth turnover of the day on Bears quarterback Jay Cutler's wayward throw in the middle of the field and Palmer kept rolling. When J.T. O'Sullivan replaced Palmer with 11 minutes left in the game Palmer had connected on 20 of 24 attempts for 233 yards for a 146 passer rating. The five TDs were one shy off his club-record six that he set Sept. 16, 2007 in Cleveland.

With Palmer out, the Bengals punted for the first time with 8:11 left in the game, but even that worked out. Safety Josh Bullucks was called for running into Kevin Huber, giving the Bengals a chance to keep their scoring drives skein intact. They turned it over on a fourth down late in the game.

Fullback Jeremi Johnson left with a knee injury in the third quarter and didn't return.

After building a 31-3 halftime lead, the fun continued into the second half when the Bengals opened up their pass rush and the Bears were forced to go for it all on the first series. On fourth-and-five Cutler went deep and cornerback Leon Hall made a leaping interception at the Bengals 10 for his second pick of the game and the Bengals' third turnover before he got up and returned it 30 yards.

Right end Jon Fanene left on that first series with a slightly sprained neck, but he returned quickly.

The offense confounded the Bears with unbalanced lines, inverted full-house backfields and even a Wildcat formation as Benson bruised his old friends with 98 yards on his first 20 carries.

The defense was almost as flawless and didn't allow a point until Robbie Gould's 22-yard field goal on the last play of the first half. Crocker blew up one of the Bears' longest plays of the game when he poked the ball out of wide receiver Devin Hester's hands at the end of an 18-yard catch and the fumble was recovered by middle linebacker Dhani Jones at the Bengals 34.

And with the Bengals leading, 28-0 with 2:07 left in the half, Hall got an interception on a tip from Crocker flying through the air to bat away Cutler's throw to wide receiver Earl Bennett over the middle. Hall took it 22 yards the other way, but Benson lost his 100-yard game when he got hit behind the line on third-and-one for a three-yard loss and the Bengals settled for Shayne Graham's 29-yard field goal with 1:10 left to make it 31-0, the third most points the Bears have ever allowed in a half.

The Bengals had taken a 28-0 lead when Palmer converted his fifth straight third down for his fourth touchdown throw of the day, an eight-yard screen to wide receiver Laveranues Coles. Coles tucked the ball behind the blocks of tight end J.P. Foschi and wide receiver Andre Caldwell on the left perimeter and knifed through the blocks for the score with 2:49 left in the half.

Cutler scraped a drive together in the final 1:10 with three throws to Hester for 46 yards and ended the half 13-of-19 for 136 yards. Hester went over the 100-yard mark when Cutler threw him a five-yard touchdown pass with less than 12 minutes left in the game.

In his six games against NFC North foes, Palmer has now thrown at least three touchdowns in every game, and on Sunday he was at his point-guard best in sifting Chicago for 183 yards on 15-of-17 chucking for a 151.1 passer rating in the first half.  

The second TD went to Ochocinco with 1:07 left for a 14-0 lead in Cincinnati's most prolific first quarter of the season. Palmer went play-action, pumped, slipped, and found The Ocho wide open running to the flag in the right corner with cornerback Charles Tillman and safety Danieal Manning badly beaten.

The Ocho had 50 yards on four catches and defensive end Frostee Rucker ended the first quarter with a sack of Bears quarterback Jay Cutler as the PBS crowd let loose with a sea of noise.

The Bengals kept pouring it on in the third series as offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski emptied his playbook and his players responded with near perfection. Out of an unbalanced line with Whitworth and right tackle Dennis Roland on the same side, Palmer rolled out of the run formation and hit The Ocho for 14 yards running across the middle.

When the Bengals were on the Bears 3, Palmer went play-action again and found a wide open Foschi for his first NFL touchdown catch to give Cincinnati a 21-0 lead in the first three minutes of the second quarter.

Palmer's nine-yard touchdown pass to wide open wide receiver Chris Henry in the right corner of the end zone in the game's first four minutes started the scoring. Palmer kept the play alive as he rolled to the right on third-and-eight, capping a drive that included Henry's 17-yard catch and a 19-yarder to Ochocinco. Palmer also lined up wide in the Wildcat as Benson took the shotgun snap up the middle.

Benson wasted no time being bullish as he crashed the red zone on the first drive when he ripped off a 23-yard run behind Whitworth working on Bears end Adewale Ogunleye. Benson jetted up the sideline outside the block.  It was the second time the Bengals scored on their first possession and the first since the second week of the season in Green Bay.

PREGAME NOTES:Defensive tackle Domata Peko, who badly bruised his knee on the game's third snap last week, was back in the Bengals starting lineup Sunday against the Bears at Paul Brown Stadium.

But running back Brian Leonard was deactivated despite practicing all week after he missed last Sunday's game with a groin injury. Also out and less of a surprise was safety Roy Williams missing his second straight game and three of the last four with a badly bruised forearm.

Two key defensive starters were out for the Bears, defensive tackle Tommie Harris and SAM linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa.

Offensive lineman Scott Kooistra and linebacker Dan Skuta didn't dress for the Bengals. Also down for the seventh straight game to open the season were wide receiver Jerome Simpson, tight end Chase Coffman and injured right tackle Andre Smith.

With leading sacker Antwan Odom (Achilles) out for the year, Jon Fanene got his first start of the season at right end and the sixth of his career in his 44th pro game despite missing the last two days of practice with an illness. And backup right end Frostee Rucker is active for just the third time this season.

For the second straight game since spraining his left thumb, quarterback Carson Palmer had a glove on his non-throwing hand. 

The Bengals emerged on a pink Breast Cancer Awareness Sunday in their all black uniforms and tried to stay above .500 in them with a 6-5-1 record coming in. Head coach Marvin Lewis opted to introduce his defensive starters individually before sending out his captains. The Bengals won the toss and opted to receive and they put running back Bernard Scott back with Andre Caldwell. The Bengals opened with Dennis Roland as a tight end with Anthony Collins at right tackle.

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