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Delhomme's mistake costly for Panthers

Oct 22, 2006 - 8:24 PM CINCINNATI (Ticker) -- Jake Delhomme had never been intercepted inside the opponents' 10-yard line as a member of the Carolina Panthers. He picked the wrong time for the first time.

Safety Kevin Kaesviharn picked off a pass by Delhomme in the back of the end zone with 3:50 left in the fourth quarter to help preserve a 17-14 victory for the Cincinnati Bengals.

The loss snapped a four-game winning streak for the Panthers (4-3), who failed to score on six second-half possessions.

The Bengals (4-2) tied idle Baltimore for first place in the AFC North and improved to 5-0 when wearing their orange jerseys.

"We put some penicillin on the virus when we win a close game," Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said. "It makes everyone feel better, but we still have some things to work on."

Carson Palmer fired a one-yard touchdown pass to T.J. Houshmandzadeh with 8:07 left in the fourth quarter to give Cincinnati its first lead.

The score came two plays after Chad Johnson made a diving 32-yard catch over cornerback Chris Gamble down the right sideline on a 4th-and-1 play.

"There was no doubt in my mind that I was going to make the play," Johnson said.

"He (Johnson) was my first read," Palmer said. "There were probably other guys open but if I can get it to Chad that's what I'm going to do."

Palmer was nearly flawless in the game-winning drive, completing 8-of-9 passes for 93 yards. The drive started with Palmer getting sacked at his own 4 by linebacker Chris Draft. But the Pro Bowler bounced back quickly with a 19-yard completion to tight end Tony Stewart.

Palmer capped it with the one-yard pass over the middle to Houshmandzadeh.

Carolina went three-and-out on its next possession, but when it got the ball back Delhomme directed a 71-yard drive to the Cincinnati 10.

Steve Smith got it started with an 18-yard catch and another 15 yards was added on a facemask penalty against safety Madieu Williams. Smith then caught a 23-yard pass down the right sideline to the Cincinnati 25.

DeShaun Foster broke off a 15-yard run on the next play. After two straight incompletions by Delhomme, the Panthers faced a 3rd-and-goal from the 10.

Needing just a field goal to tie the game, Delhomme lofted an ill-advised pass that floated into the hands of Kaesviharn, who made a leaping catch in the back of the end zone.

"When I let it go, I thought it was a touchdown," Delhomme said. "It was a bad throw on my part."

Keyshawn Johnson, a cousin of Chad Johnson, was the intended receiver on the play.

"I thought it was going to be a touchdown," Keyshawn said. "I don't even know where he (Kaesviharn) came from. Had I known he was going to be there, I would have tackled him."

Delhomme, who was 20-of-34 for 238 yards and two touchdowns, smacked both hands on the sides of his helmet after his costly interception.

The Bengals made two first downs on their next possession before punting.

Carolina took over with just 16 seconds left on its own 13. But Delhomme was sacked by Robert Geathers for a nine-yard loss on the last play of the game.

The interconference contest matched Smith and Chad Johnson - two of the NFL's elite receivers who were teammates at Santa Monica Junior College. Smith finished with eight catches for 126 yards and Chad Johnson caught six passes for 73 yards.

In their only previous meeting, Smith scored on two punt returns and caught a touchdown pass in a 52-31 victory at Carolina in 2002.

Delhomme hit tight end Kris Mangum with a seven-yard touchdown in the first quarter and connected with fullback Nick Goings on a 20-yard scoring play with 47 seconds left in the second quarter to stake Carolina to a 14-7 halftime lead.

The Bengals went three-and-out on their first four possessions and didn't get a first down until Palmer hit running back Chris Perry with a 12-yard pass with 7:24 left in the second quarter.

That completion sparked a 13-play, 80-yard drive which Palmer capped with a 16-yard touchdown pass over the middle to tight end Reggie Kelly with 3:16 left in the second quarter.

Palmer completed 23-of-39 passes for 240 yards and Rudi Johnson rushed for 101 yards on 26 carries.

Shayne Graham kicked a 23-yard field goal with 7:06 left in the third quarter to pull the Bengals within 14-10.

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