Bengals won't let loss define their season
The Cincinnati Bengals are getting a little less time to dwell on the unsightly ending to their unbeaten start. That's probably a good thing with a road game against the streaking Arizona Cardinals coming this weekend.
The Cardinals and former Cincinnati quarterback Carson Palmer will try to send the Bengals to another defeat Sunday night while earning a fourth consecutive win.
The Bengals (8-1) produced a season-low 256 yards while failing to score a touchdown for the first time this year in a 10-6 loss to Houston on Monday. Andy Dalton posted his lowest passer rating (61.0), yardage total (197) and completion percentage (57.9) of 2015.
Cincinnati also allowed Texans backup T.J. Yates to engineer a drive for the go-ahead score in the fourth quarter, ending its bid for a team-record win streak.
"We can't let there be any carry-over," Dalton said. "That's not the team we are, and we know what we've done to this point. This game doesn't define our season. It doesn't define anything. We're still 8-1. We're still leading the division. We know where we are."
The Bengals can bounce back and move three games ahead of idle Pittsburgh in the AFC North this week, but they'll have to slow down a Cardinals team that's 16-4 at home in coach Bruce Arians' three seasons.
"They're very long and fast," Arians said of the Bengals. "They have a solid secondary. Andy (Dalton) is playing really, really well. They've got a huge and great wide receiver, a good stable of backs.
"They're a quality, quality group. Marvin (Lewis) is a heck of a football coach. They've got a great staff."
Arizona (7-2) has won two straight games, both on the road, and Palmer shined in each. He totaled 737 yards and seven touchdowns, throwing for 363 with three TDs in a 39-32 victory over Seattle last Sunday.
Palmer's 14-yard score to former Bengals tight end Jermaine Greshman with 8:41 remaining allowed the Cardinals to regain the lead for good after blowing an early 19-0 advantage. Andre Ellington sealed the win with a late 48-yard scoring run as the Cardinals took a three-game lead in the NFC West.
Arizona's 73 points in the past two games pushed its season total to 302, one behind league-leading New England's. The Cardinals are on pace to smash the franchise mark of 427 from 2008.
Palmer gets his second matchup with the Bengals since his tenure in Cincinnati ended with threats of retirement after the 2010 season. He went 19 for 34 for 146 yards with one TD and one interception in a 34-10 road loss for Oakland on Nov. 25, 2012.
"For as much time as I spent there, it's not just another game," Palmer said. "There's obviously a little bit extra on it. It's a big game for us and a big game for them. ... Myself and this team are focused on Week 11, not 2011."
Palmer and the Cardinals will face the league's stingiest defense, which allows 16.9 points per game. The Bengals are on pace to yield 270, and the fewest the club has given up in a 16-game season is 284 in 1978.
Arizona has topped 400 yards in four consecutive games, its longest such streak since at least 1950.
Left guard Mike Iupati said he "should be OK" to play Sunday after a scary collision with Seattle's Kam Chancellor resulted in him being taken to the hospital after leaving the field on a stretcher.
"It was scary," Iupati said. "When your neck hurts and both of your arms go numb, it's a scary feeling."
Cardinals receiver Michael Floyd (hamstring) and defensive lineman Cory Redding (ankle) are day to day.
The Bengals could get right tackle Andre Smith back after a two-game absence due to a concussion. Linebacker Vontaze Burfict is expected to be limited in practice again this week by an ailing knee but is expected to play.
Cincinnati won 23-16 at home in the most recent matchup with the Cardinals on Dec. 24, 2011, as Dalton's two first-half TDs helped give his team an insurmountable lead. The Bengals are 0-2 all-time in Arizona.