Midway through the fourth quarter, things quickly got out of hand.
A Mohamed Sanu fumble on third and six with 7:16 remaining in the third quarter was recovered by Joselio Hanson, who returned the football into the endzone for the touchdown. At least it was supposed to be. Oakland's celebration was fortunately interrupted after an official inadvertently called the play dead with a whistle and the Bengals were given the choice to replay the down. Honestly if we were Raiders fans, we'd be beyond angry.
Apparently the Raiders were pissed off (and they should be) and Lamarr Houston took it out with a rough quarterback sack on Andy Dalton during the replayed third down. Andrew Whitworth took serious issue and went into blood rage mode, going after Houston. When it was all said and done, three players were ejected, including Whitworth, Houston and Tommie Harris who came off the bench. The Bengals were given a third attempt at a third down and Andy Dalton completed a 48-yard pass to A.J. Green.
Just another day at Paul Brown Stadium.
Well. Maybe not. We should welcome Mr. Palmer back to Cincinnati, after declaring he'd never play another down at Paul Brown Stadium last year.
Yet the game opened with the same symbolism that highlighted the game's buildup this week. Case in point: We know that Bengals head coach likes to use phrases, examples and other coins of symbolism; this is the man that shows videos of snipers, who are calm, cool and collected with a heavy emphasis on focus. The Lewis symbolism came during the game's opening coin toss when he named Andy Dalton as one of the team captains, meeting the man he replaced for the first time at midfield. Palmer predictable lost the coin toss and the Bengals deferred to the second half.
And it was nearly over before the gun concluded the first half. Andy Dalton fell in love with the acrobatic and sure-handed receiver Mohamed Sanu, who posted two first half touchdown receptions and a career-high five catches. A.J. Green only posted three receptions, yet surpassed 100 yards due to a 44 and 48 yard reception, not to mention a 20-yard end around giving him 131 yards from scrimmage. Unfortunately Green's touchdown streak, scoring in nine straight games, comes to an end.
If we made one summary in the first half, it was almost like the Cincinnati Bengals offense could call any play in the first half, confident that it would work. And it often did, nearly generating 300 yards of total offense in the opening two quarter. One of those reasons was the continued revitalization of the Bengals rushing offense, with BenJarvus Green-Ellis rushing for 129 yards, scoring a touchdown. As a whole the Bengals rushed for a second-high 221 yards.
A first half domination led way to a heart-pounding second half where Cincinnati's offense went lifeless, followed by an inconsistent Bengals defense that pressured Palmer but during those moments that they didn't, the Raiders pushed the football downfield. Now the Bengals nearly faced a systematic collapse in the second half, with four third quarter possessions leading to -4 yards from scrimmage and no first downs. Additionally the Raiders took a bite into Cincinnati's 24-point lead with 10 points in the third quarter.
Then fight. Ejection. Big passes and a Jermaine Gresham game-sealing seven-yard touchdown to give Cincinnati a 34-10 win over the Oakland Raiders.
During his return to Cincinnati, Carson Palmer was sacked four times, hit 13 times and completing only 19 passes for 146 yards and a passer rating of 64.1.
Cincinnati, now 6-5 and above .500 again, heads out to San Diego to take on the Chargers.