A close examination of the professional career of Carson Palmer causes one to draw comparisons to a tale only William Shakespeare could tell. Much like the stories of Julius Caesar and Hamlet (minus the betrayal and poison), Palmer’s NFL career can only be accurately described as tragic. Let’s take a closer look at the playoff woes of this former Heisman winner.

Carson Palmer (AP Photo)
(AP Photo)

2005

After a rookie season spent on the bench and a decent sophomore campaign, Palmer and the Bengals put together a strong season, finishing at 11-5 and earning a spot in the postseason. The happy story ended as quickly as it started, however, as Palmer went down with a terrible looking leg injury. Throwing from their own 12 yard line, Palmer was rolled up on by a Steelers defensive player who basically fell into him. Ironically, Palmer completed the pass (his only pass attempt) for 66 yards down the right sideline before going down in a heap. Palmer was replaced by the incomparable Jon Kitna (talk about a tragedy), and the Bengals would go on to lose to their rivals 31-17.

carson palmer
(Getty Images)

2009

Following the disastrous end to the 2005 season, the Bengals would not finish with a winning record again until 2009 (Carson Palmer also had a season ending injury in 2008). Facing off against the Jets, Palmer put forth a generally poor performance. Completing only 50% of his passes for 146 yards with one touchdown and one interception, Palmer simply didn’t show up. The Bengals would lose to the Jets 24-14, ending the season in disappointment once again.

2015

The years following his appearance in the 2009 playoffs would be rather tumultuous for Carson Palmer. His final year with the Bengals ended with a 4-12 season, and Palmer found himself with the Oakland Raiders in 2011. Palmer struggled in Oakland (because Raiders) and only spent two losing seasons with the team. However, in 2013, Palmer’s fortunes appeared to turn for the better. He landed with the Cardinals, a team in which he immediately found success. Although he suffered another ACL injury in 2014 (ending a season in which Carson won 6 straight games), Palmer and the Cardinals finished with winning records every season that he was with the team. Aside from another season ending in injury (sense the theme?), Palmer’s tenure with the Cardinals was largely characterized by success. This success reached its peak this past season, as the Cardinals finished with the second seed in the NFC and one of the most prolific passing offenses in the league.

Carson Palmer
(USA Today Sports)

The dream season for Carson Palmer and the Cardinals came crashing down come playoff time. In their first matchup against the Green Bay Packers and Aaron Rodgers, the Cardinals almost blew a solid lead, winning a nail-biter in overtime. Palmer’s numbers were rather good (3 touchdowns, 2 interceptions, 349 yards and a 92.4 passer rating) but they neglect to tell the true story of his performance. Palmer missed a ton of throws throughout the night, and his two interceptions were wholly unacceptable from an “elite” quarterback.

 

The Cardinals did win, however, moving on to be completely dismantled by the Carolina Panthers in the Conference Championship. Much has been said about Palmer’s performance and his six turnovers, so I won’t harp on that anymore. Needless to say, Palmer’s performance against Carolina cemented what we already knew: Palmer’s postseason play pales in comparison to what he’s capable of in the regular season. At this point, it seems hard to envision Palmer’s career being characterized by anything other than injuries and disappointments. In the end, this could only leave one such as Shakespeare to ask, “Et tu Carson?”

Kyle Kirby writes about the NFL for MFST. You can follow him on Twitter @couch_qb.

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