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Palmer, defense help Bengals embarrass Browns

Nov 26, 2006 - 9:00 PM CLEVELAND (Ticker) -- Carson Palmer and the Cincinnati Bengals' defense made sure the latest "Battle of Ohio" was anything but one.

Palmer threw for three touchdowns and the Bengals recorded their first shutout in 17 years with a 30-0 thrashing of the hapless Cleveland Browns.

Chris Henry had a pair of touchdown catches and Chad Johnson went over 100 receiving yards for a third straight game for the Bengals (6-5), who have put together consecutive wins for the first time since a 3-0 start

Cincinnati remained three games behind Baltimore in the AFC North. The teams meet in Cincinnati on Thursday night.

"We've been planning all week for it and we're ready to go," Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said. "We took things out and we rested all week, knowing that we had a two-game stretch and to make sure we had enough gas in the tank."

While Palmer used his pinpoint accuracy to shred the Browns, the Bengals received a surprising performance from their defense, which entered the contest ranked last in the NFL.

"The defense was huge," Palmer said. "They got us fired up. We were jumping around with every turnover. Our defense has taken a lot of criticism, so for them to get this shutout is huge. I can't remember when we got a shutout."

"That's a number on paper," Lewis said. "At the end of the day, you want to win football games and I think that's the most important thing."

Cornerback Tory James and free safety Kevin Kaesviharn each had two interceptions for the Bengals, who forced five turnovers en route to their first shutout since a 21-0 win over the Browns on December 3, 1989.

"Any time you get a shutout, I think it's going to help your confidence," Kaesviharn said. "We still have work to do. We realize that. We didn't play a perfect game today and until we do, we're going to continue to strive for that."

Palmer had touchdown passes of seven and 10 yards to Henry and a six-yard connection to T.J. Houshmandzadeh. He completed 25-of-32 passes for 275 yards with an interception before being lifted in the fourth quarter with the game well in hand.

Johnson finished with seven catches for 124 yards. The Pro Bowler has 573 receiving yards the last three games - an NFL record for a three-game stretch.

It was a struggle for the Browns (3-8) starting with the opening kickoff when Joshua Cribbs had a 101-yard return for a touchdown nullified by a holding call on Mason Unck.

Charlie Frye also was completely ineffective, completing 18-of-29 passes for 186 yards with four interceptions. He also was sacked four times.

Cleveland managed just 220 total yards and 10 first downs. The Bengals entered allowing 377.6 yards per game.

"We did not play well today and there is no denying that," Browns wide receiver Joe Jurevicius said. "The product that we put out there today was not acceptable."

The frustrations for the Browns, who came in ranked 30th offensively, boiled over late in the third quarter when Frye and wide receiver Braylon Edwards had to be separated by teammates on the sidelines.

"Me and Braylon are fine," Frye said. "We both are competitors and we want to win. Things are said during the game all the time. It's getting blown up right now. You can ask Braylon right now - me and him are both fine."

Edwards did not meet the media.

Cleveland, which fell to 1-5 at home, also committed nine penalties for 93 yards in an otherwise inept performance on both sides of the ball.

"We are fighting against each other instead of fighting against the other team," Frye said. "That's the bottom line. I'm not just saying fighting verbally, but missed assignments and things like that, and when you have those things, you're not going to win many games.

Rudi Johnson, who rushed for 64 yards on 25 carries, opened the scoring with a one-yard run with 5:54 left in the first quarter.

Palmer capped a 10-play, 82-yard drive with a seven-yard TD pass to Henry with 12:02 to go in the second quarter for a 14-0 advantage.

Shayne Graham extended the margin with a 24-yard field goal with 39 seconds left in the half.

Cincinnati scored on three of its four possessions in the opening 30 minutes.

Palmer connected with Houshmandzadeh in the third quarter before finding Henry four seconds into the fourth to cap the scoring.

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