October 10, 2014

Given a chance to make a national impression, the Cincinnati Bengals were embarrassed in a blowout defeat last weekend.

They hope a return to Paul Brown Stadium helps them bounce back as they seek a 12th straight home win Sunday against the Carolina Panthers.

Cincinnati (3-1) suffered a 43-17 loss at New England last Sunday night, its most lopsided defeat since falling 44-13 in Baltimore on Sept. 10, 2012.

The Bengals entered with the NFL's top scoring defense at 11.0 points per game and limited their last two opponents to an average of 317.5 yards. They surrendered 505 yards to the Patriots, their most since allowing 554 in a loss at Cleveland on Sept. 16, 2007.

"Anytime you get 43 points on you, that really hurts you," defensive tackle Domata Peko told the team's official website. "Believe me; we're going to fix it. That's the thing we take pride in around here."

A favorable upcoming slate figures to help the Bengals regroup. They'll play four of their next five at home, where their 11-game regular-season winning streak is tied with New England as the longest in the NFL.

"It'll be good to go back in 'The Jungle' and try to get on the right track," Peko said.

The likely return of linebacker Vontaze Burfict should help Cincinnati rebound, too. Burfict, who had a team-high 114 tackles last season and missed the last two games with a concussion, was a full participant in Wednesday's practice.

A.J. Green's status is in doubt, however, after the All-Pro receiver left practice due to an aggravation of his right toe injury. The injury has nagged him since the opener, though he caught five passes for 81 yards and a touchdown against New England.

The Panthers (3-2) avoided a three-game skid with a 31-24 win over Chicago last Sunday. They limited the Bears to 347 yards after giving up an average of 454.0 in losses to Pittsburgh and Baltimore and recorded four sacks - one fewer than they had over the previous three contests.

Carolina led the NFL with 60 sacks in 2013 but has 11 this year without Greg Hardy, who remains on the exempt-commissioner's permission list until his domestic violence case is resolved.

Charles Johnson finally registered his first sack after recording 11 last season. He also recovered a fumble and deflected a pass.

"It was great to see the pass rush get the chance to cut loose," coach Ron Rivera said. "Again, when you get yourself into the position when you have a lead, you get them into the second- and third-and-longs, and you can cut it loose and get after the quarterback."

The Panthers' rushing attack remains in a state of disarray, averaging an NFC-low 74.8 yards. DeAngelo Williams (ankle) will miss a second straight game and Jonathan Stewart (knee) will be a game-time decision, leaving the chance that Darrin Reaves, Fozzy Whittaker and Chris Ogbonnaya will split the carries again.

Cam Newton flourished last week when Carolina employed the no-huddle on the final drive of the first half and first drive of the second half, going 8 of 11 for 124 yards and a TD. He was 11 of 24 for 131 yards on all other possessions.

"He's pretty good at it," said tight end Greg Olsen, who caught six passes for 72 yards and two scores. "It's been good for us this year. Sometimes certain situations dictate that you can't stay in it, but when we've done it we've been pretty successful. When we need a spark we can go to it. And it seems like it does spark us."

Olsen is on pace for career highs of 86 receptions, 1,043 yards and 12 TDs.

"He's so consistent," Newton said. "Greg didn't do anything that he hasn't been doing for us all season."

The Bengals were vulnerable against tight ends last Sunday, giving up a combined 185 yards and two TDs on 11 receptions by New England's Rob Gronkowski and Tim Wright.

Cincinnati was unable to get its rushing game going after falling behind 14-0 in the second quarter. The Bengals ran 18 times for 79 yards after averaging 34.0 carries and 121.7 yards in the first three games.

Cincinnati won the last meeting 20-7 at Carolina on Sept. 26, 2010.

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