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Titans sack harried Palmer four times

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- The Tennessee Titans bought themselves
two more weeks of hope at the expense of an old foe they still love
to beat.

The Titans rested Steve McNair and his aching chest, and backup
Billy Volek responded by throwing for two touchdowns and 210 yards
as the Titans beat the Bengals 27-20 Sunday for their first victory
at home this season.

Gary Anderson kicked two field goals, and Chris Brown ignored an
aching left big toe in running for a touchdown and 147 yards, his
fifth 100-yard performance this season. With their bye next, the
Titans snapped a two-game skid with their ninth victory in 10 games
against their old AFC Central foe Cincinnati (2-5).

"If we would've lost this, I hate to say it, but I think the
season just would've been totally shot," Titans cornerback Samari Rolle said. "At least now we know we can win at home. We can build some momentum now, rest some people up."

Tennessee (3-5) sacked Carson Palmer four times, hit him
repeatedly, batted down four passes behind the line and forced him
into an interception and a fumble.

Still, the Titans nearly blew a 14-point lead as Palmer tried to
rally the Bengals in the final 2:35, marching them to the Tennessee
9.

But tackle Albert Haynesworth sacked Palmer on first-and-goal,
knocking the ball loose, and end Juqua Thomas recovered to seal the
victory.

"I should've gone one-two and thrown it out of the back of the
end zone, stop the clock and give us a chance on third down,"
Palmer said.

The Bengals wanted to ride the emotion from their 23-10 victory
last week in their first Monday night game since 1992, and looked
good on the opening drive as Palmer hit all six passes to set up a
28-yard field goal.

"We didn't play with poise on either side of the football,"
Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said.

"Up front we had four penalties on the first drive on offense
and probably had three or four offsides penalties when we knew he
was going to use the cadence to unnerve us," Lewis said of Volek.

The Bengals might have thought they were in luck with McNair
wearing warm-ups on the sideline after throwing for 20 TDs against
Cincinnati, his most against any NFL team.

Then Brown, who did not practice with a toe so sore he wore a
walking boot for protection, wore down the league's worst rushing
defense with 32 carries -- even with his toe hurting late in the
game. He was back in the boot when talking to reporters, and he
said his toe was bigger than before.

"But I knew we had to finish this one off," Brown said.

Tennessee, which had lost five of the last six, kept the Bengals
in the game after building leads of 13-3 and 27-13, the last on
Brown's 1-yard run at the end of the third quarter.

Safety Madieu Williams pulled Cincinnati within 13-10 after
stepping in front of Volek's pass for Derrick Mason and returning
the ball 51 yards at the beginning of the third quarter. Shayne Graham later tied the game at 13 with a 50-yard field goal.

After Brown's TD put the Titans up 27-13, Palmer hit T.J. Houshmandzadeh on a short pass that he turned into a 62-yarder to
the Tennessee 6 after Titans safety Tank Williams missed the
tackle. Rudi Johnson scored on a 6-yard run on the next play.

Palmer finished 20-of-36 for 247 yards, while Johnson had
just 57 yards on 17 carries.

Tennessee went three-and-out on three of its final four
possessions.

Volek played well enough as he drove the Titans to two field
goals that gave them a 6-3 lead. Tennessee held the Bengals to just
17 yards in the second quarter as the Bengals at one point backed
themselves from their 35 to the 12 with three straight penalties
before going three-and-out.

The Titans led 13-3 at halftime after they ran out the final
6:24 with a drive kept alive twice converting fourth downs,
including Volek's 1-yard TD toss to Meier as time expired.<

Game notes
Veteran referee Johnny Grier lasted two plays before limping to the Titans' sideline with a strained right calf. He was replaced by back judge Scott Green, who got Grier's microphone gear after the opening drive. ... Cincinnati safety Kim Herring hurt his
right knee in the first half but was able to return and finished
the game. ... Titans punter Craig Hentrich's lower back flared up
before kickoff, but he averaged 44.2 yards on five punts. He also
had a sneak for first down on a fake punt.