CINCINNATI — The purplish bruises on the back of Carson Palmer’s passing shoulder and the nasty red scrape down the middle of his back vividly summed up his horrid homecoming.
The Bengals made it painful for Palmer all-around.
Andy Dalton threw three touchdown passes against Oakland’s dreadful defense, and the Cincinnati Bengals showed their former franchise quarterback that they’ve moved on without him, beating the Raiders 34-10 on Sunday.
“Not a lot went right, from start to finish,” Palmer said.
Basically, the Bengals (6-5) did anything they wanted while pulling ahead 24-0 in the first half. They also got the better of a nasty second half that included an on-field fight and three ejections.
Cincinnati has moved back into playoff contention with three straight lopsided wins. For now, the Bengals have everything working.
“You need to be balanced when you’re playing a game like this,” said Dalton, who was 16 of 30 for 210 yards. “When you get the lead early, you want to be able to run the ball. We’ve just got to keep it up.”
BenJarvus Green-Ellis ran for 129 yards and a touchdown against the NFL’s most generous defense. He had runs of 48 and 39 yards — the longest of his career — to set up scores.
Oakland’s frustration boiled over in the fourth quarter.
A brawl broke out after a play was whistled dead because of a penalty, and Oakland’s Tommy Kelly and Lamarr Houston ended up on top of Cincinnati’s Andrew Whitworth in the middle of a big scrum of players. All three were ejected.
“They were probably looking for a fight because they weren’t doing much on the field,” Whitworth said.
Oakland (3-8) has lost a season-high four straight games, giving up 169 points in the process.
“I’m just really tired of losing,” safety Mike Mitchell said. “It’s going from anger to sadness to … I don’t know.”
Palmer hadn’t been back to Cincinnati since the Bengals traded him in the middle of last season, finally satisfying his demand for a trade. He went 19 of 34 for 146 yards with four sacks and an interception.
He was booed by the 56,503 fans — the smallest crowd of the season at Paul Brown Stadium — when he went out for the coin toss. He got a hug from former teammate Rey Maualuga and finally met Dalton, who was drafted in the second round last year to replace him.
A sign in the upper deck read: “Winners Never Quit,” a reference to Palmer’s insistence he would never play for the Bengals again.
“You obviously hear it,” Palmer said of the boos. “You can’t block things like that out. But I prepared myself for that.”
The first time he tried to pass, Palmer got a hint it would be a long day. Tackle Geno Atkins shot through the line virtually untouched and sacked Palmer as he faked a handoff. Palmer was sacked twice on Oakland’s first possession.
It never got a whole lot better. With running back Darren McFadden sidelined again by an ankle injury, the Raiders were missing one of their best options.
The NFL’s most generous defense allowed the Bengals to take control 24-0 in a dominant first half. Green-Ellis found a big hole on Cincinnati’s third play of the game and ran a career-best 48 yards before getting shoved out at the 1. Green-Ellis then carried the final yard.
On Cincinnati’s next series, the Raiders gave up a 44-yard reception by A.J. Green and a 27-yard reception by Jermaine Gresham. Mohamed Sanu made a one-hand touchdown catch for a 14-0 lead. The Bengals had 156 yards after only two series.
Dalton’s 5-yard touchdown pass to Sanu made it 21-0 midway through the second quarter. At that point, the Raiders’ offense hadn’t yet crossed midfield.
The half ended with one more Raiders mistake. Marcel Reece had Palmer’s pass go off his hands, and Chris Crocker intercepted with 8 seconds left. Mike Nugent’s 55-yard field goal tied the club record and put the Bengals up 24-0.
Oakland allowed 289 yards in the half — the most this season — and had only 83 yards, its fewest on offense since it managed 52 yards in the first half at Pittsburgh on Nov. 21, 2010.
Sebastian Janikowski’s 55-yard field goal ended the shutout in the third quarter, and Palmer beat a blitz by lofting a 20-yard touchdown pass to Denarius Moore.
The Bengals got a break in the fourth quarter when an inadvertent whistle wiped out Sanu’s fumble deep in Cincinnati territory with 7:22 to go. On the next play, the brawl broke out that resulted in the ejections.
NOTES: Green failed to catch a TD pass, ending his streak of nine games with one. It’s the second-longest streak in club history. … Atkins’ ninth sack moved him one ahead of Dan Wilkinson for the club record by an interior lineman. … CB Leon Hall missed a play after he broke up a pass in the first quarter, hurting a finger on his left hand. He got two fingers taped together and returned. … Chris Bahr also kicked a 55-yard field goal for the Bengals on Sept. 23, 1979 against Houston.