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Sunday, September 26, 2010
Wrap-up: Bengals 20, Panthers 7

By James Walker

Here are some thoughts on the Cincinnati Bengals' 20-7 win against the Carolina Panthers:

What it means: The Bengals showed maturity and took care of business against a lesser opponent on the road. Cincinnati has dominated the AFC North recently but struggled outside of the division. So every win outside of the AFC North demonstrates growth by the team.

What I liked: Cincinnati's defense showed up for the second straight week, holding Carolina (0-3) to just seven points. Rookie quarterback Jimmy Clausen made his first NFL start and finished with 188 yards and one interception. After getting throttled by the New England Patriots, the Bengals have allowed just 17 points combined in the past two games.

What I didn't like: Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer continued his slow start by throwing for 195 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Palmer has a lot of new weapons in the passing game this year, so there is no excuse for him not to produce, particularly when he's turning over the football. Palmer's passer ratings in the first three games this season have gone from 92.5 to 60.1 to 53.3 against the Panthers.

What's next: The Bengals will play their second division game of the season when they travel next week to play the Cleveland Browns (0-3). Cincinnati swept the Browns in two games last season. The Bengals improved to 2-1 and remain one game behind the Pittsburgh Steelers (3-0) in a competitive AFC North division.