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Carson Palmer going through growing pains

CINCINNATI (AP) - Carson Palmer saw Chad Johnson running deep down the field with man-to-man coverage. Sure, the safety was lurking somewhere, but this was too tempting.

Palmer reared back and let it fly and immediately regretted it.

Again.

Twice during the Bengals' 23-9 loss to the Ravens on Sunday, Palmer got a little greedy and threw interceptions near the end zone, extending their streak without an offensive touchdown. It's now at 30 possessions and eight quarters, a reflection on their banged-up offensive line and their growing pains under a first-year quarterback who leads the NFL in pass attempts.

Coach Marvin Lewis knew there would be such days when he elevated Palmer in the offseason, putting the inexperienced Heisman Trophy winner in charge. Under pressure from the Ravens' blitzing defense, Palmer had three interceptions and a fumble.

"When you're a young quarterback, you get greedy, and I have to fight that temptation," Palmer said.

The futility is growing and so is Lewis' urge to protect his quarterback. On Wednesday, he suggested that everyone should ease up.

"Our object is to win the game, not see how many times we can throw it into the end zone and get intercepted," Lewis said. "What we don't want to have is the interception we had last week. To Carson's credit, he hasn't done that often."

Palmer expected some rough times and is handling them very well. So is the rest of the offense, which knew he would need time to shine.

The fans are another matter.

Encouraged by the 8-8 finish in Lewis' first season, fans bought tickets and expected playoffs. The first two home games drew the two largest crowds in the stadium's 5-year history.

Their patience has run out already.

The Bengals (1-2) got booed in their own stadium Sunday. Some fans started calling for backup Jon Kitna - last year's NFL comeback player of the year - to make another comeback.

It won't happen.

"I share their disappointment, but we're not going to share their panic," Lewis said. "We're going to stay our course and do fine. Carson made a number of fine plays. There's a couple of plays he'll learn from and never do again, I'm sure."

For the most part, he's looked good.

Palmer got a lot of attention for his impressive debut, a 31-24 loss to the Jets. He went 18-of-27 for 248 yards with two touchdowns and one interception, which translated into a gaudy 105.2 passer rating.

The Dolphins and Ravens took a different approach, blitzing him often and forcing quick decisions that led to occasional mistakes. He threw for only 147 yards against Miami.

The four turnovers against Baltimore undercut his first 300-yard passing game. Palmer was 25-of-52 for 316 yards.

Heading into a game Sunday at Pittsburgh, Palmer leads the NFL with 117 passes thrown.

"That's definitely not our intention," Palmer said. "We're a running team. We want to run the ball more. When you're down, we have to start throwing. We definitely want to get up quick in this game and run the ball and really grind it down."

Lewis is worried that his team is starting to get worn down by criticism. The defense is giving up 5.7 yards per carry, worst in the league, and the offense hasn't scored a touchdown in two games.

"Our expectations are high," Lewis said. "People are chipping at them. That's why I close them in and protect them as much as I can.

"Let's look back to where we were a year ago at this time. Things are significantly different, but not where we want them to be."

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