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Cincinnati Bengals: The History and Return of Carson Palmer

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Cincinnati Bengals: The History and Return of Carson Palmer
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The Cincinnati Bengals chose Carson Palmer first overall in the 2003 NFL Draft after his Heisman-winning 2002 season with USC.

Palmer was drafted by first-year head coach Marvin Lewis in hopes of becoming the team’s franchise quarterback.

Palmer sat out the 2003 season while he learned the game from Marvin Lewis and veteran quarterback Jon Kitna. He got his first start in 2004.

Towards the end of the 2004 season, people were starting to take notice to the way that Palmer played. He was throwing for huge gains against stout defenses and leading his team to come-from-behind wins.

In 2005, Palmer led the Bengals to their first playoff appearance in 15 years when the Bengals finished 11-5, winning the division.

Palmer was spectacular in 2005 as he threw for a league-high 32 touchdown passes and finished the year with a passer rating of over 100. This was the first time in Bengals history that a quarterback has ended a season with such high a number.

In January 2006, the Bengals had their first playoff matchup against their AFC North rival Pittsburgh Steelers. On the Bengals’ first pass play, Palmer delivered a 66-yard strike to the late Chris Henry. Then tragedy struck.

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Palmer was hit in the knee on the play by Steelers defensive tackle Kimo von Oelhoffen which ended up tearing his ACL and MCL. The Bengals lost that game and many fans believe that was Cincinnati’s year to finally claim a Lombardi Trophy.

Palmer was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2005 and again in 2006 after a remarkable comeback.

Later, in 2008, Palmer suffered a torn ligament in his throwing elbow and missed most of the season. This began the downfall of Palmer with the Bengals.

In 2009, the Bengals once again won the division and for the first time ever, swept the entire division. Most of the offense was based on the running game, using an unbalanced line and the fresh Cedric Benson in the backfield.

Palmer did not put up great numbers that season and it was clear again when he struggled in the first round of the playoffs against the Jets. The Bengals lost the game and again were one and done in the postseason.

In 2010, the wheels completely fell off as the Bengals tried to surround the disgruntled Palmer with more weapons. They added Antonio Bryant (who never ended up playing a down with the team) and Terrell Owens at receiver.

They also drafted tight end Jermaine Gresham out of Oklahoma with their first-round draft pick, slot receiver Jordan Shipley in the third round and receiver Dezmon Briscoe in the sixth round.

Peter Aiken/Getty Images

Still, Palmer struggled for the duration of the season and during that offseason, he demanded to be traded or threatened to retire.

This forced the Bengals to select a new quarterback during the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft in TCU product Andy Dalton.

Meanwhile, Bengals owner Mike Brown still was not budging on the Palmer situation until the Oakland Raiders came calling with an offer he could not refuse. The Raiders ended up giving the Bengals a 2012 first-round draft pick (spent on cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick) and a 2013 second-round draft pick.

What the Raiders received in return has been mediocrity thus far. Palmer has continued to struggle as he has been well known to force the ball downfield which has resulted in numerous interceptions.

Yes, in 2012, Palmer has thrown for a fair amount of yardage, but this is mostly done in “garbage time” when the Raiders are virtually out of the game already.

Sunday marks the first time that Palmer will be back in Paul Brown Stadium since his departure from Cincinnati and it should be interesting to see what kind of reception he gets from the Bengals faithful.

Sunday being a revenge game has been brushed under the rug by both Palmer and Bengals coach Marvin Lewis thus far, but it should be safe to say that both the quarterback and the coach will do their best to bring their “A” game against each other.

With the Raiders struggling on both sides of the ball and the Bengals coming off of two consecutive and impressive wins, this one certainly looks to be in favor of the Bengals and the man that drafted Carson Palmer: Marvin Lewis.

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