Monday, October 12, 2009

Bengals 17 Points, Ravens 14 Points!

When exactly did Carson Palmer morph into John Elway? Can somebody, anybody, please explain what's going on here? The man who was once an unclutch robot is suddenly a late-game assassin. Consider what's happened late in the fourth quarter in four of the Bengals first five games in '09:

Week 1, Denver (trailing 6-0): Unable to move the ball at all since the first quarter, Palmer engineered an 11-play, 91-yard touchdown drive that left Denver with 38 seconds on the clock. Of course, this was forgotten immediately after the Brandon Stokley Miracle, but still...this was one hell of a drive, especially considering what Denver's been up to on defense this year.

Week 3, Pittsburgh (trailing 20-15): What's worse than a brain fart? I'm thinking brain diarrhea. And brain diarrhea is what Marvin Lewis repeatedly produced on the final drive as he inexplicably saved his timeouts and ordered up spike after spike. But it didn't matter. No. 9 found a way. Somehow. In the end, Palmer led his team on a 16-play, 71-yard touchdown drive, leaving Pittsburgh with a mere 14 seconds to operate.

Week 4, Cleveland (trailing 20-14): A 4th-and-goal TD pass to Chad Ochocinco capped an 11-play, 70-yard touchdown drive. It should've been the game-winner too, but the kicking game reared its ugly head and the extra point was blocked. Uncharacteristically, Palmer left the Browns with a whopping 1:55 to work with. No harm, though...the Bengals triumphed in overtime.

Week 5, Baltimore (trailing 14-10): 11 plays, 86 yards, touchdown. Was the drive aided by Baltimore penalties? Yep. Were all of the calls valid? Yep. Okay, then who cares? Besides, Palmer made big plays all drive, and didn't flinch when Daniel Coats dropped what would have been the game-winner with under forty seconds remaining. Two plays later Palmer found Andre Caldwell for a 20-yard TD pass with only 22 seconds to go.

For those scoring at home, that's four do-or-die drives...all longer than 70 yards...trailing by more than a field goal in each...all resulting in game-tying or go-ahead touchdowns...all completed with under two minutes remaining.

Let me go ahead and guarantee that this has never happened in the million-year history of the NFL. I would provide proof, but I'm not sure Scouts, Inc. keeps statistics on this sort of thing -- in fact, I'm positive they don't -- but it doesn't mean we shouldn't be blown away by Palmer's remarkable end-of-game quarterbacking thus far.

Because I am. I'm blown away. And the fact that it's coming from Palmer makes it 60 trillion times more shocking.

Now, if he could just cut down on those back-breaking interceptions...

-Brad Spieser (