Since 2005, very few teams in the NFL have made the playoffs as many times as the Cincinnati Bengals.
Carson Palmer helped spark one of the greatest periods in franchise history by leading the 2005 Bengals to an 11-5 record and the AFC North crown. It looked as though even greater days were ahead for Palmer and the city of Cincinnati...
But as can be the case with anything in life, expectations simply aren't always met. Palmer and the Bengals would go 0-2 in their two postseason berths together, and after a disastrous 2010 season, Palmer forced his way out of Cincinnati.
Since then, Andy Dalton has guided the Bengals to five straight playoff berths, though only starting in four of them (due to an injury for the fifth) and lost all four in uninspiring fashion. That's led to a lot of criticism for his inability to get Cincinnati over the playoff hump, and while it may be fair, his counterpart in Arizona hasn't exactly lit the world on fire either.
That was painfully evident during Palmer's two playoff outings this season. Against the Green Bay Packers in the Divisional Round, Palmer finished with 349 yards and three scores, but he also had two interceptions and two more throws that should have been easy picks for Packer defensive backs, if they weren't dropped.
Frankly, it was as painful watching Palmer in these playoffs as it ever was watching Dalton in his worst postseason outings. The only difference was Dalton's opponents never gifted him a win like the Packers did Palmer and the Cardinals last week, which is Palmer's only career postseason win.
While Palmer has been the beneficiary of plays like this...
Dalton has been victimized by plays like this:
And unfortunately for Palmer, Carolina didn't squander those easy plays in the NFC Championship as they forced Palmer into six turnovers, four of which being interceptions. The most interceptions Dalton has thrown in a playoff game was three in his rookie season at Houston.
Speaking of, let's take a look at both passers in their postseason careers:
The numbers do favor Palmer, but only by a slight margin, and not enough so that he should get a pass for his playoff struggles while Dalton's define him, at least by the general public and national media. Palmer has simply been terrible in the playoffs and deserves the same level of scrutiny, and lack of respect, that Dalton gets.
Adding to that, those playoff numbers for Dalton are through his first four NFL seasons. Palmer's second playoff berth didn't come until his seventh NFL season, well into what should have been the prime of his career.
And, Palmer's best year as a pro didn't come until this past season when he threw for 35 touchdowns vs 11 interceptions and had the third-best passer rating (104.6) and the best QBR (82.1) in the NFL. As good as Palmer was for the duration of the regular season, he looked epically bad in the playoffs.
So when people want to bring up Dalton and his postseason struggles, just remember how bad Palmer has been in these same games for the duration of his career.