Palmer passed for 271 yards and the game-winning score. (AP photo)
Posted: 7:05 a.m.
BALTIMORE - That guy out there Sunday who looked to be a combination of Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger and Baltimore's Joe Flacco was none other than Cincinnati's Carson Palmer.
At 4-1 he now has a better record than last year's quarterbacks in the AFC championship game and has beaten them twice in the last three weeks in the final 22 seconds.
Palmer showed a little Roethlisberger in the first half when he scrambled out of the pocket and bobbed and weaved before throwing a 73-yard bomb to wide receiver Chris Henry that set up a field goal. At the end of the game he flashed a little Flacco with 22 seconds left when he fired a 20-yard laser to wide receiver Andre Caldwell for the winning score.
And for the second time in two weeks he converted a fourth down on the final drive with a scramble, this one for six yards on fourth-and-one.
Any doubts about Palmer's health, particularly about his knee, have to be erased with the mobility he showed in the face of a stiff Ravens rush that could only sack him once as he completed several of his 18 completions for 271 yards on the run or out of pocket.
"It makes it difficult when you try to play us two-man and you don't leave anyone for the quarterback but leave some lanes," Palmer said. "In this type of game you have to use your feet. It's a field-position game, a defensive battle. I knew that going into it. If there weren't plays to be made downfield the best play is a two-yard scramble or a four-yard scramble in a field-position game where you just don't want to take any chances."
Palmer also sees the AFC North as a scramble even though the Bengals are in command at 3-0 and 4-1 overall. He likes it that way.
"We didn't deserve to be talked about. Pittsburgh and Baltimore were both in the AFC championship game, and they should receive all the attention," he said. "Sometimes it's good to be the underdogs. It takes the pressure off you. You don't have that extra pressure on you. People don't expect much from you and you come out and surprise people and hit them in the mouth and that's what we've done this year."
SNAP ISSUES: Did long snapper Brad St. Louis play his 144th and last Bengals game? After a week the Bengals tried out four snappers, St. Louis had a high snap that got held OK but appeared to be complicated by kicker Shayne Graham's hesitation, leading to a 32-yard block.
St. Louis did have a perfect snap on a 32-yard field goal later, but he later sailed an extra-point snap way over holder Kevin Huber's head. The Bengals got it back when the Ravens were called for illegal formation on the play and St. Louis got off a good snap on that one and on the PAT following the last touchdown. But that is now six kicks that haven't been made between field goals and PATs.
"I think it is a little bit mental, and I'm glad we were able to come through it in the end again today," Lewis said of his snapper. "We're working hard with him and just trying to help him to deal with it. We've got confidence in him. Yeah, last week we looked at some other guys, but that's just what you do, you look at some other guys. You go with what you know and what you expect. He's a great professional and pro, and we're going to keep hopefully helping him with technique and some things, just the things we're trying to do."