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Fried Meat Ball!
12-27-2005, 08:00 AM
Palmer expects to play vs. K.C.

By Kevin Goheen
Post staff reporter

Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer wanted to go back out onto the field. He wanted to make up for the interception he had just thrown, an interception Buffalo cornerback Terrence McGee had returned 46 yards for a touchdown to seal his team's 37-27 win Saturday at Paul Brown Stadium.

Marvin Lewis decided what Palmer wanted wasn't in his best interest. Not after Palmer came up with a slight groin pull while scrambling out of bounds one play before McGee's interception.

"He pulled up," said Lewis. "It was a slight pull but he wanted to go back and play, but the fat lady was singing."

Jon Kitna came in and played the final three snaps of the game while Palmer was taken into the locker room for evaluation. Palmer walked with a slight limp entering and exiting his post-game press conference but said he expects to play next Sunday at Kansas City. That remains to be seen.

The Bengals will host a first-round playoff game on Jan. 7 or 8 regardless of the outcome of the game against the Chiefs, the only determination being when and who. While the team would like to finish up with its best effort, having Palmer as healthy as possible for the playoffs is more important.

"I'm going to be fine," said Palmer. "We have one of the best training staffs in the league, and I believe in those guys and trust those guys. They're going to get me ready to play."

Palmer completed 25 of 36 passes for 266 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. He set a franchise record for completions in a season when he connected with tight end Matt Schobel for a 23-yard gain in the second quarter. That allowed him to surpass Jeff Blake's previous record of 326 completions in 1995. Palmer now has 340 completions in 501 attempts this season for 3,782 yards, 32 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.

O'NEAL BRUISED - The Bengals got another scare in the first quarter when cornerback Deltha O'Neal suffered a bruised right knee. O'Neal hurt himself on Buffalo's first play from scrimmage, a 65-yard completion from quarterback to Kelly Holcomb to wide receiver Lee Evans. O'Neal left the field under his own power, skipping off to prove he was OK and later returned.

SANTA CHAD SETS RECORD - Wide receiver Chad Johnson backed up his celebration promise by passing out autographed hats, t-shirts and footballs from a red Santa Claus bag after scoring on a 41-yard reception from Palmer in the second quarter. Johnson caught nine passes for 117 yards, giving him 93 catches for 1,377 yards this season.

He broke his own single-season receiving yards record of 1,355 yards set in 2003 and he put himself in position to break the single-season receptions record. He'll need eight catches at Kansas City to top the 100 catches Carl Pickens had in 1996.

Johnson would have been closer to catching Pickens if not for a pair of dropped passes. He made up for the first drop by catching Palmer's slant pass on the next play at the Buffalo 27 and then outracing four Bills defenders to the end zone. His second drop came in the third quarter but the Bengals overcame the play and eventually scored on a 27-yard pass from Palmer to rookie Chris Henry.

Johnson and Buffalo cornerback Nate Clements battled against each other all game long, each coming up with their share of plays and each talking smack at one another. After the game, Johnson and Clements embraced in a friendly and congratulatory hug.

"That was fun. We always do that," said Johnson of his matchup against Clements.

When informed of the receiving yards record, he wasn't as impressed. But neither was he worried about the loss carrying over to next Sunday's regular season finale.

"(Forget) that record, man" Johnson said. "We just lost and that (focus) had nothing to do with it. We prepared the same way, we did everything the same, we just happened to lose, that's all."

LOST POSITION - Buffalo had an average starting position on its own 40-yard line on its nine offensive possessions, while the Bengals averaged starting on their own 30. Cincinnati's starting position was good but the Bills got excellent field position possession after possession mainly due to their special teams.

Buffalo had 294 yards in punt and kickoff returns, highlighted by 220 from Terrence McGee. That's the second-most kickoff return yards by an individual against the Bengals, behind only the 229 yards Desmond Howard had for Detroit in 2001.

I LOVE PBS - Buffalo quarterback Kelly Holcomb became the first Bills quarterback in 44 games to throw for more than 300 yards when he threw for 308 against the Bengals. Holcomb was the quarterback for Cleveland last season when the Bengals beat the Browns, 58-48. Holcomb was 30-of-39 for 413 yards and five touchdowns in that game but also threw two interceptions, including one that O'Neal returned 31 yards for a touchdown to seal Cincinnati's win.

"I don't think Kelly Holcomb gets enough credit," said Bengals defensive end Justin Smith. "Every time I've seen him, he's made big plays. He's a patient guy, waits for things to open up, for his guys to get open, so credit to him."

MONEY GRAHAM - Kicker Shayne Graham made his two field goal tries against the Bills, pushing his streak of consecutive made attempts to 13 and equaling the franchise record he shares with Jim Breech and Doug Pelfrey. Graham, who was selected to his first Pro Bowl last week, was also good on all three of his extra point attempts and now has 128 points. That breaks the single-season mark of 122 points he set last season.

Graham is the most accurate kicker in team history, having made 95 of 113 field goal attempts (84.1 percent) in three seasons with the Bengals. He has never missed an extra point in 128 tries, also a club record.

NOTEWORTHY - The Bengals set a single season attendance record in 2005. They had 65,485 for Sunday's game to give them 526,469 for the season. ... Henry's touchdown was his only reception of the game and gave the Bengals 24-20 lead. Deactivated last week against Detroit following an arrest for marijuana possession, he declined comment after Saturday's game. ... Smith had five tackles to go along with one sack and one pass defensed. He was in on another sack but the play was wiped out because of defensive holding call against linebacker Landon Johnson. ... Thurman left the game briefly with a stinger in his neck but returned and had eight tackles to top the defense along with Landon Johnson.

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