Bengals' Whitworth: Palmer taking heat to protect team

Cincinnati Bengals offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth said veteran quarterback Carson Palmer hasn't played as poorly as some people think, but is accepting blame for the offense's troubles in order to shield his teammates.

"People want the sparks and big offense and when it doesn't always happen, Carson's the guy," said Whitworth, the team's starting left tackle. "We've had a lot of penalties and we've got new receivers with Jordan Shipley and Jermaine Gresham. Even (Terrell Owens), a veteran. There are a lot of things going on including route depth and how things like that are being executed. When things aren't perfect, it looks a lot worse on the quarterback than it actually might have been.

"Carson does a great job of handling it all," Whitworth said, referring to mounting criticism. "His thing is, 'Talk about me, not anyone else.' He has no problem handling the scrutiny."

The Bengals (2-3), who travel to Atlanta to face the Falcons on Sunday, rank seventh in the NFL in passing with 248 yards per game. Palmer has completed 115 of 194 passes (59.3 completion percentage) for 1,287 yards and seven touchdowns. He has thrown six interceptions -- five in the last three games -- and has a passer rating of 78.3.

Cincinnati has suffered back-to-back three-point losses to Cleveland and Tampa Bay and dropped six of seven on the road dating to last season, the lone victory coming in Week 3 against winless Carolina.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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