Carson Palmer made no secret of his hatred for the Pittsburgh Steelers during his rehab. After the Cincinnati Bengals quarterback sent the defending Super Bowl champions to a 1-2 start, the feeling might be mutual.
Alternating between brilliant and awful, Palmer threw 2 touchdown passes to T.J. Houshmandzadeh less than a minute apart midway through the 4th quarter following Steelers turnovers and the unbeaten Bengals (3-0) rallied for a 28-20 victory Sunday.
``I didn't take anything personal into this game,'' said Palmer, who during the offseason said how much he hated the Steelers. ``I didn't come in here thinking, `It's payback time, let's get these guys.' I came in here thinking it's a divisional game and let's get a win.''
Palmer seriously injured his knee in January when Kimo von Oelhoffen rolled atop it early in Pittsburgh's playoff victory. In his first game against the Steelers since, he had 3 fumbles, 2 interceptions and was sacked 6 times, but overcame that with 4 touchdown passes.
``It shows how good your team is when your quarterback doesn't play well and you get a win,'' Palmer said.
Ben Roethlisberger, recovering from an offseason motorcycle accident and appendicitis attack, was an ineffective 18-39 for 209 yards for the Steelers.
Eli Manning also didn't have a good game, and the New York Giants couldn't overcome early mistakes and a big deficit against the Seattle Seahawks (3-0).
Manning had 3 interceptions and New York (1-2) trailed 42-3 before rallying in the 4th quarter in a 42-30 loss.
``I don't know what it is. But it's not flat,'' Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. ``A team that does nothing but preach and talk about turnovers, we turn it over like nothing matters, nothing counts. It cost us the game.''
It all left New York's Jeremy Shockey irate at his coach.
``We got outplayed, and outcoached. Write that down,'' the volatile tight end said after he was told of Coughlin's frustrated outburst.
Manning was 2-7 for minus 1 yard and the 2 interceptions in a nightmare 1st quarter, when Seattle led 21-0. He was 20-26 for 238 yards after that.
``Yeah, it was hard to believe,'' Manning said of the start.
Matt Hasselbeck threw 5 touchdown passes, 4 in a first half for Seattle. His scoring throws to Darrell Jackson, Nate Burleson, Bobby Engram and even 3rd string tight end Will Heller, plus Shaun Alexander's 2 yard score put the Giants behind 35-0 for the first time since September 4, 1995, when they lost by that score to Dallas en route to a 5-11 season.
``You don't expect to be in that situation,'' Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren said.
Panthers 26, Buccaneers 24
At Tampa, Florida, Buccaneers quarterback Chris Simms had his spleen removed after taking several hard hits and was resting comfortably in a hospital Sunday night.
There was no immediate word on how long the 4th year pro might be sidelined.
Keyshawn Johnson scored 2 touchdowns and Jake Delhomme led a last minute drive that produced John Kasay's 4th long field goal of the day with 2 seconds remaining for Carolina (1-2). Steve Smith returned after missing the first 2 games with a sore hamstring and had 7 catches for 112 yards.
Tampa Bay fell to 0-3.
Packers 31, Lions 24
At Detroit, Brett Favre joined elite company with the 400th touchdown pass of his career, then added 2 more scores to lead Green Bay (1-2) to its first win.
With his first TD pass of the game, a 75 yarder to rookie Greg Jennings, Favre joined Hall of Famer Dan Marino as the only quarterbacks to reach 400 touchdown passes. Marino has 420.
The Lions (0-3) remained winless under new coach Rod Marinelli. Mike McCarthy earned his first victory as coach of the Packers.
Broncos 17, Patriots 7
Jake Plummer threw touchdown passes, his first of the season, of 83 and 32 yards to Javon Walker, and visiting Denver shut down Tom Brady and the Patriots.
New England's offense was rendered ineffective by a defense that finally surrendered its first touchdown of the season with just over 9 minutes left: an 8 yard pass from Brady to Doug Gabriel.
The win was the 5th for the Broncos (2-1) in their last 6 games against the Patriots (2-1).
Colts 21, Jaguars 14
Jacksonville held Peyton Manning to 1 touchdown pass, but Indianapolis found other ways to score, on Terrence Wilkins' punt return and a rare rushing TD by the Colts quarterback, to maintain their dominance in the AFC South.
The 3 time defending division champs won their second straight home game over a division foe. Indy (3-0) has won 10 straight division games and beat the visiting Jags (2-1) for the 4th time in 5 tries.
Redskins 31, Texans 15
At Houston, Mark Brunell completed his first 22 throws and Clinton Portis scored 2 touchdowns in his first start of the season to give Washington (1-2) its first win.
The 36 year old Brunell broke the NFL record for most consecutive passes completed in a game when he found Santana Moss on a 6 yard pass late in the 3rd quarter for his 22nd straight hookup. The previous record was held by Oakland's Rich Gannon, who completed 21 straight against Denver on November 11 2002.
The Texans are 0-3.
Eagles 38, 49ers 24
At San Francisco, Mike Patterson returned a fumble 98 yards for a touchdown, Brian Westbrook rushed for 117 yards and 2 touchdowns, and Donovan McNabb passed for 296 yards for the Eagles (2-1).
Alex Smith passed for 293 yards and Michael Robinson scored 2 TDs for the 49ers (1-2).
Bears 19, Vikings 16
At Minneapolis, Rex Grossman threw a 24 yard touchdown to Rashied Davis right after the 2 minute warning and the Bears (3-0) remained unbeaten.
Antoine Winfield returned 1 of Grossman's 2 interceptions for a 4th quarter touchdown, and Ryan Longwell's 3rd field goal with 7:27 remaining gave Minnesota (2-1) a 16-12 edge. But Grossman came through with his first career 4th quarter scoring pass after Chester Taylor lost a fumble with 3 1/2 minutes left, and Adewale Ogunleye recovered at the Vikings 37.
Dolphins 13, Titans 10
At Miami, a 50 yard drive set up a 39 yard field goal by Olindo Mare with 3:39 left to help the sputtering Dolphins beat the hapless Titans.
Miami (1-2) won even though Daunte Culpepper was limited to 168 yards passing and was sacked 5 times. Ronnie Brown rushed for 90 yards, including a 27 yard gain to set up Mare's go ahead kick.
Tennessee fell to 0-3 for the 6th time since the franchise was founded in 1960.
Jets 28, Bills 20
Chad Pennington capped 3 drives of 58 yards or more with touchdowns, and linebacker Victor Hobson's 32 yard fumble return for a score clinched the visiting Jets' victory.
Pennington, coming off consecutive 300 yard passing outings, finished 19-29 for 183 yards, including a 1 yard touchdown completion to Chris Baker for New York (2-1).
Willis McGahee ran for a career high 150 yards for the Bills (1-2).
Rams 16, Cardinals 14
At Glendale, Arizona, Kurt Warner threw 3 interceptions and then fumbled a snap at the Rams 18 with 1:46 to play and Will Witherspoon recovered to allow St. Louis (2-1) to hold on.
It was a fitting end for a game that featured 6 turnovers, 4 by the Cardinals (1-2).
Ravens 15, Browns 14
At Cleveland, Matt Stover kicked the Ravens to their first 3-0 start since the franchise moved to Baltimore when he connected on a 52 yard field goal with 20 seconds left.
Stover's 12th career game winning kick came after Ravens cornerback Chris McAlister intercepted a pass by Cleveland's Charlie Frye in the end zone with 3:21 remaining as the Browns (0-3) were driving.