NEW ORLEANS (AP) – The Carson Palmer-to-Chad Johnson connection was clicking again, and this time it resulted in a Cincinnati Bengals victory.

The pair combined for touchdowns of 41, 60 and 4 yards as the Bengals snapped a three-game losing streak with a 31-16 victory over the New Orleans Saints.

The pair had combined 260 yards and two touchdowns last week against San Diego, but it was all for naught in a 49-41 loss. This week, they got some help from the defense, which thwarted four Saints drives with three interceptions and a fumble recovery.

Johnson’s second touchdown catch put Cincinnati ahead 17-10 in the fourth quarter. There was no end zone celebration, however, as the receiver pulled up lame with a pulled right hamstring.

Not that it affected him for long. Johnson returned on the Bengals’ next series and made a 48-yard reception to set up his final TD catch, which put the Bengals ahead 24-10.

Palmer was 14-of-22 passing for 275 yards, including Johnson’s six catches for 190 yards. Rudi Johnson ran for 111 yards for the Bengals (5-5).

New Orleans looked like the better team for much of the game, but as with its two previous losses to Pittsburgh and Baltimore, turnovers were costly. Two promising drives ended with Brees passes being intercepted in the end zone.

Brees also had an interception returned 52 yards for a touchdown by Ethan Kilmer that gave the Bengals a 31-10 lead with 6:14 to go.

Cincinnati’s defense, which gave up 49 points a week earlier, also made an important stand early in the fourth quarter, stopping Deuce McAllister on a third-and-1 at the Bengals’ 5-yard line. A touchdown could have put New Orleans ahead and changed the complexion of the game. Instead, John Carney’s short field goal tied the game at 10.

Brees was 37-of-52 for 510 yards passing, his fourth consecutive game with more than 300 yards. But New Orleans (6-4) has lost three of those four games, including two in a row.

AP-ES-11-19-06 1618EST


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