CHICAGO (AP) – The Cincinnati Bengals are off to their best start in 15 years, and they’re doing it by flustering opposing quarterbacks.

Cincinnati, which entered the game with a league-leading 10 takeaways, picked off Chicago Bears quarterback Kyle Orton five times in a 24-7 victory over the Chicago Bears on Sunday. The Bengals became the first NFL team in 34 years to intercept five passes in consecutive games.

Madieu Williams, Keiwan Ratliff, Tory James, Deltha O’Neal and Brian Simmons each intercepted Orton. The Bengals intercepted Daunte Culpepper five times in last week’s 37-8 victory over Minnesota; the 1971 Cleveland Browns were the last to pick off five in back-to-back games.

Carson Palmer was 16-of-23 for 169 yards and three touchdowns, two of them to Chad Johnson. Rudi Johnson rushed for 84 yards.

Chicago’s Thomas Jones rushed for 106 yards and scored the Bears’ lone touchdown on a 2-yard run early in the fourth quarter, after a 139-yard performance in last week’s 38-6 rout of Detroit. Cedric Benson, the No. 4 pick in the draft, did not play.

Orton, who had thrown only one interception in the first two weeks, looked flustered, completing just 17 of 39 passes for 149 yards. By the time he was intercepted a fifth time, the Bears were still in it – down 10-0 five minutes into in the third quarter.

That’s when O’Neal picked off a pass intended for Muhsin Muhammad, the fourth interception of the season for O’Neal, who entered the game tied with Chicago’s Nathan Vasher for the league lead. Palmer took advantage, driving his team 70 yards and finishing with a 36-yard touchdown pass to Chris Henry.

Orton’s first interception came on the Bears’ first play from scrimmage, when the Bengals’ Kevin Kaesviharn hit Justin Gage as he attempted to catch a pass at the 40. Simmons got the interception, fumbled, and Odell Thurman scooped up the ball and brought it to the Chicago 18.

Palmer hit Johnson for a touchdown on the next play, zipping the pass between Charles Tillman and Mike Brown for a 7-0 lead one-minute, 14 seconds into the game.

Midway through the quarter, Ratliff intercepted Orton at the Bears’ 37. Palmer attempted to hit T.J. Houshmandzadeh deep on the right side, but pass interference against Tillman put the ball at the 3. The Bengals settled for a 33-yard field goal by Shayne Graham with 2:27 left in the quarter.

The problems never ceased for Orton: James picked off a long pass intended for Mark Bradley early in the second quarter, and Williams later intercepted a pass thrown into double coverage, giving the Bengals the ball at their 46.

After the Bears recovered a Cincinnati fumble, Doug Brien missed a 39-yard field goal with 1:12 left in the half.

The Bears lost tight end Desmond Clark to a neck strain in the first half.

AP-ES-09-25-05 1704EDT


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