Bengals continue struggles

Published 1:15 am Monday, November 1, 2010

The Associated Press

CINCINNATI — The Dolphins knotted their ties, slipped on their suit coats and headed for the bus, another impressive win in their travel bag.

“The plane ride home will be a nice one,” receiver Brandon Marshall said.

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Always is for the NFL’s kings of the road.

Dan Carpenter kicked five field goals for the second game in a row — a rare feat — and the Dolphins overcame another goofy play Sunday, beating the Cincinnati Bengals 22-14 to stay unbeaten on the road.

Everything goes their way when they’re away.

At home last week, Miami (4-3) lost after a disputed play. Ben Roethlisberger’s touchdown was ruled a fumble on review, but the Steelers kept the ball and kicked a field goal for a 23-22 win, offsetting Carpenter’s five field goals.

The defense made sure Carpenter’s next five were enough.

The Bengals (2-5) failed to get a first down in the third quarter and were shut out in the second half. Their final chance ended with Carson Palmer’s interception with 2:43 to go, sending the defending AFC North champions to their fourth straight loss and a share of last place.

It’s Cincinnati’s worst start since 2008, when Palmer was sidelined with an elbow injury.

“It is amazing,” said Palmer, who was 17 of 38 for 156 yards. “It’s embarrassing. It’s depressing. It’s every negative word you can think of that we didn’t do our job.”

By contrast, Carpenter was perfect again.

The third-year kicker went to the Pro Bowl in 2009, and has been the Dolphins’ top scorer lately. He connected from 38, 42, 24, a career-best 54 and 31 yards on Sunday.

The five field goals were the second-most by a Dolphins kicker — Olindo Mare made six against New England in 1999. The 54-yarder tied for third-longest in team history — Pete Stoyanovich made them from 59 and 58 yards.

He didn’t hear much from his teammates as the kicks added up.

“My teammates leave me alone,” Carpenter said. “I get a ’good job’ every once in a while. Obviously, after the 54-yarder at the half, there were a few more guys that came up to me. They expect me to make field goals. Frankly, I expect myself to make all of my field goal tries, too. It’s nothing special.”

Carpenter is the ninth kicker since 1950 to make 10 field goals in back-to-back games, according to STATS LLC. No kicker has more.

“It really is impressive,” coach Tony Sparano said. “He’s a great luxury for me to have. We didn’t quite finish drives, but the guy puts 15 points on the board.”

No one was surprised.

“He went to the Pro Bowl last year,” linebacker Channing Crowder said. “He’s one of the four best kickers in the league. That’s what he’s supposed to do.”

His dependable leg has guided Miami through an unusual start — 4-0 on the road, 0-3 at home, the fifth time that’s happened in league history, according to STATS. The five kicks also got Miami past another strange play that could have turned the game.

The Bengals scored on their opening drive for the first time all season, finishing with Palmer’s 7-yard touchdown pass to Terrell Owens. That’s all they earned on their own.

Late in the second quarter, Palmer severely underthrew a long pass to Owens. The ball went right into the arms of safety Chris Clemons and kept going — through his arms, off his chest, off his thigh, and off his hand as he fell. The ball ended up in Owens’ arms, and he jogged the last few steps to complete a 37-yard scoring play, smiling and nodding over the good fortune and a 14-6 lead.

He didn’t know the Bengals’ offense was finished.

Cincinnati failed to pick up a first down in the third quarter, when Carpenter’s fifth kick made it 15-14. The Bengals had a final chance, getting to the Miami 22-yard line before Palmer’s pass toward Owens was picked off by Sean Smith.

Chad Henne got Miami its clinching touchdown, leading a 96-yard drive in the fourth quarter that included four big plays — Henne to Brandon Marshall for 25 yards, Henne to Brian Hartline for 24, Hartline on a reverse for 30 yards, and Ricky Williams up the middle for 30 more. Williams’ 1-yard run made it 22-14.

Notes: The last time the Dolphins won their first four road games was 2003. … WR Davone Bess started instead of Hartline for the first time this season. Bess had a team-high seven catches for 53 yards. … Bengals DT Tank Johnson hobbled off the field with an injured right knee in the third quarter, then went to the locker room for an exam. … CB Johnathan Joseph was inactive for a second straight game with an ankle injury. Morgan Trent started in his spot and had an interception.