Carson Palmer has thrown four touchdown passes as the Arizona Cardinals left it to the dying seconds to inflict only a second defeat of the season on the Cincinnati Bengals with a 34-31 victory in their NFL clash on Sunday evening.
Both sides came into the match with strong records and top of their respective divisions, but both struggled to garner any kind of momentum in the opening stages, each side being turned over on a third-down drive in the first quarter.
With Cardinals quarterback Palmer enduring a torrid first 15, being sacked once and intercepted twice, it was his counterpart Andy Dalton who created the first score of the game on a huge swing in momentum when, after throwing a 42-yard gain to AJ Green, he found Tyler Eifert from the redzone for the tight end's 10th touchdown of the year.
That score came with just 22 seconds remaining in the first quarter, but Palmer and Arizona came out fighting after the first interval and tied things up when the quarterback's gamble on finding Darren Fells from 18 yards paid off to complete an 80-yard drive.
With just over a minute of play remaining in the first half, however, the Bengals retook the lead when Dalton hit Giovani Bernard with a 41-yard pass to get within two yards of the goalline, and Jeremy Hill capped a 14-play drive by rushing in to score.
The Cardinals wrestled the initiative from their opponents in the second half thanks to a fine third-quarter display from Palmer, who brought them level again with a superb 64-yard throw to deep right for JJ Nelson to go over for his first NFL touchdown.
Arizona then took the lead for the first time when Palmer hit John Brown from 18 to leave the Bengals reeling, and after Dwight Freeney had sacked Dalton inside the Bengals' five, Palmer threw his fourth touchdown pass of the night to David Johnson to establish a 28-14 lead.
There was still life left in Cincinnati, however, as Hill rushed in after an 11-play drive for his second score to cut the lead, but a big turnover saw the Cardinals take over at the Bengals' 10, and they played it safe by turning the fumble recovery into a kick for three to ensure that a single score would not be enough to force overtime.
Dalton linked up with Eifert again from the redzone to bring the Bengals within three with just under four minutes to play, and after they stopped the Cardinals' drive at the third, Mike Nugent's 43-yard field goal looked to have forced overtime with a minute to go.
There was one final twist, however, as a superb drive from Palmer in the dying seconds got Arizona into field goal range, and Chandler Catanzaro's second kick of the game was good from 32 yards to secure victory with a single second left on the clock and move the Cardinals to 8-2 at the top of NFC West.body check tags ::