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The Palmer Playoff Myth Destroyed Forever

January 18, 2010 by Palmer Sucks

Random Rants by PalmerSucks

January 13, 2010

As the original debunker of the Carson Palmer myth, I feel uniquely qualified to bury another falsehood that has made the rounds since 2006: the idea that the Cincinnati Bengals only lost that year�s Wild-Card playoff contest because Carson Palmer left the game with an injury.

For years we�ve put up with such foolish talk from Bengal fans and Stiller haters alike. These people use a convenient win-win strategy to make their point � you can�t prove to them that the Bengals lose with Palmer in there, since he never finished the game. Or to put it another way, how can you disprove something that never happened in the first place?

Their �proof� is supposedly made by a single play, an early 66-yard strike to Chris Henry as Palmer was absorbing the hit that would send him out of the game. Never mind that the pass didn�t even result in points; somehow this was a sign that Palmer was going to break all NFL passing records that day on the way to sending the Stillers home crying heavy tears of sorrow.

I remember watching Chad Johnson (as he was called in the pre-Ocho-Stinko era) being interviewed in Detroit the week of the �06 Super Bowl, employing the myth in all its glory. There sat Chad all sullen and bitter, crying about how the Bengals rightful championship had been stolen from them � an obvious reference to the Kemo hit. Here was the strategy being played to perfection: �I say we win it all if Palmer finishes the game, and how are you going to prove me wrong?�

Did you get that? Now not only did one hit keep the Bengals from winning the Wild-Card game, but the whole freakin� playoffs and Super Bowl to boot! Ah, the power of the excuse.

Never mind that the Bengals and their paper-bag defense would�ve had to have gone through Peyton Manning even if they�d beaten the Stillers � or Denver, which had finished off the Patriots in their prime. No, Chad knew beyond all doubt that Bengals should be the ones getting fitted for their rings. All they lacked was the full playoff participation of that Hall of Fame immortal, Carson Palmer.

How insulting both to reality, and to the Stillers� amazing sixth-seed playoff run! But in pretend-world, all is possible, like the wet dreams of the lab nerd who nails the hottest babe on campus. It could happen!

At the time, public sympathy and Stiller hatred combined to support the myth: here were the mean, nasty Stillers at their dirtiest, deep-sixing the other teams� QB (never mind that the Bengals� Thurman had dived at Roethlisberger�s knees earlier that season). The implication was that the Stillers had to cheat to win � never mind that Palmer had never beaten the Stillers in Cincinnati until this season.

Frankly, I think the best thing to happen to the Bengals was to have Palmer go down, which served two purposes: a) allowing them to declare themselves champs on paper, and 2) sparing them the humiliation of the defeat that probably would�ve occurred with Palmer in there anyway.

The fact is, the Stiller offense was on fire that day, scoring 31 points even while killing the clock in the 4th quarter. They easily could�ve scored 5 or 6 touchdowns, given how they�d taken it to the Cincy defense in the second half. Even the great Palmer would�ve been hard-pressed to keep up with their offensive outpouring, so prolific was it that afternoon.

But again, that�s all conjecture; we�ll never really know what would�ve happened had Palmer finished. And so the myth lived on � at least until this Saturday.

Finally we got to see a full 60 minutes of Carson Palmer playoff football. And suffice to say, the results were less than impressive.

Here, Cincy fans, was your legend, getting to face a Jets team that couldn�t carry the �05 Stillers� jocks with a forklift. Carson Choke responded with these historic stats: 18 of 36 for 146 yards and a sickly 58 QB rating.

But it wasn�t just the numbers that told the story: Palmer followed the classic fader pattern which I�ve chronicled over the years. He came out on fire early, putting up the classic early Palmer touchdown, then turned as cold as the outdoor temperature as the game progressed. By the 4th quarter the Bengals couldn�t have bought a touchdown with a ton of gold bars.

Now, how much you wanna bet the exact same thing happens back in �06? The odds are on my side here, because this is the way it�s always been with Palmer. You see, the early deep completion wasn�t a sign that Palmer would�ve won the game that day � it was merely the way he�s always operated. Call it the �Palmer Pattern�: get hot early, gag late.

To make things worse, Palmer enjoyed massive run support Saturday, with Cedric Benson running wild for 169 yards � a whopping 8 yards a pop! Now if Palmer couldn�t succeed with that kind of help against the �09 Jets (a team lucky even to have made the playoffs) how on earth was he going to overcome the eventual champion �06 Stillers? You�re telling me he can�t overcome Mark Sanchez, but would�ve taken the Stillers with Big Ben?

If you think the Bengals were going to win that day, with or without Palmer, I�ve got a bridge over the Ohio River to sell you. Great price too � almost as cheap as they claim Kemo�s hit on Palmer�s leg was!

And so the question is answered: �what if?� right along with �who dey?�  Sorry Cincinnati, you lose on both counts.

Anyway, feel free to pass this along to your favorite Bengals fan or site, just to cheer them up. As suspected, the Bengals� Super Bowl was won a couple months ago when they finally beat the Stillers. In Pittsburgh we hold victory parades in February; in Cincinnati, they host them in October. I guess it makes things a bit more comfortable not having to wear all those bulky winter coats and stuff.

No doubt in Cincy they�ll blame everybody from the water boy down, except for the Teflon QB. Already the excuses are rolling; an actual message board thread reads �Palmer�s health: arm still not right?� No Bengals fans, it�s not the arm that�s the problem here, it�s the throat.

We have seen reality, and it is that Carson Palmer is a playoff choker. The myth has been buried, for good. Chad Ochostinko, you may stop pulling on your ring finger now � truth is, you were never going to get fitted in the first place.

Until next time, this is a triumphant PalmerSucks saying �vindication is mine!�

(The views of PalmerSucks are not necessarily those of � but should be.)

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