Scratching and Clausen, but Jimmy and the Panthers can’t find the “W”[now (0-3)]


CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Carson Palmer was far from sharp and made some head-scratching decisions. It was still good enough for Cincinnati against a struggling Carolina offense that rookie Jimmy Clausen couldn’t jump-start.

Palmer shook off two interceptions to throw a game-clinching touchdown pass to Cedric Benson midway through the fourth quarter, and Benson rushed for another TD in the Bengals’ 20-7 victory over the Panthers on Sunday to spoil Clausen’s first NFL start.

Cincinnati (2-1) snapped a five-game road losing streak despite a mistake-filled performance of turnovers and penalties in drizzly weather that included little explosiveness from the receiving duo of Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens.

But the Panthers (0-3) couldn’t take advantage with Clausen throwing for 188 yards and the Panthers committing four more turnovers.

Jonathan Stewart’s lost fumble set up Palmer’s 7-yard TD pass to Benson — the running back’s first career receiving TD — to put the Bengals ahead 20-7.

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