TDBH: Pro Bowl MVP Palmer teams with Chad to lead AFC victory

Posted Feb 9, 2018

This Day in Bengals History - February 10, 2007

HONOLULU - Just 398 days after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer is the brightest star in today’s NFL all-star game when he takes the AFC down the field in the last 1:48 for Chargers kicker Nate Kaeding's 21-yard walk-off field goal for a 31-28 victory with the key play coming on a pass to Bengals teammate Chad Johnson. "It was a thrill just being on the sidelines with a guy like Coach (Bill) Belichick and going down the field in the last two minutes," Palmer says via phone after becoming the Bengals' first post-season MVP. "Just handing off to a guy like LaDainian Tomlinson. It was the best of the best." Earlier in the week Johnson warns that he and Palmer will go off on their own and it happens on the second to last play from scrimmage when they make eye contact before the snap. Palmer hangs the ball deep and Cardinals safety Adrian Wilson comes over the top and drills Johnson near the goal line when he mistakenly thinks the ball has been tipped. It’s a 39-yard interference penalty and makes Palmer a winner in his first Pro Bowl. It also marks the third straight game that Palmer takes his team down the field on its last drive for a score that should have at least tied the game. But today he’s rewarded with the kick he didn’t get against Denver and Pittsburgh in two losses that knock the Bengals out of the playoffs. “We got (interference) by calling it at the line and taking a shot deep," Palmer says. "It was a different kind of game I guess. We didn't really know much of the offense. We took advantage of DBs jumping routes and receivers going long."

Palmer, who replaces Super Bowl MVP Peyton Manning in the second half, finishes 8 of 17 for 190 yards and throws two bombs for scores, a 72-yarder to Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne that breaks a 14-14 half-time tie and then a 42-yarder to Johnson early in the fourth quarter that gives the AFC a 28-14 lead. It's the first all-Bengals scoring pass in Pro Bowl history and Johnson's second in a Pro Bowl game. Johnson, who catches a 90-yard touchdown from Steve McNair on his first Pro Bowl snap three years ago, ends up this one with three catches for 70 yards. "We've scored on that play about five or six times in Cincinnati," says Palmer of the deep post from New England's playbook.  This is the kind of game it is. Bears rookie Devin Hester, fresh off his Super Bowl-opening kick return for a touchdown, finds himself lined up against Wayne even though he barely plays corner this season. "That was just a double move where Reggie took advantage of Devin Hester not playing much cornerback," says Palmer, who hoists a perfect moon ball over Wayne's shoulder. Rams running back Steven Jackson observes, "These games are all about who lands the last punch, and Carson is a great player."

But as usual, Palmer is unimpressed. He even thinks the winner's share is $20,000, not the $40,000 each AFC player takes home. "People have been asking me, how do I feel compared to last year?" Palmer says, who was voted here last year but sidelined by the injury. "I watched the game last year because I'm a big football fan and these guys are great players and so fun to watch. I wasn't bitter and I didn't feel down or anything like that. It was really the same even during the game today." Palmer's biggest kick seems to be spending time with an old defensive coordinator, Belichick, the head coach of the three-time Super Bowl champion Patriots. "That was the biggest honor. I've read all his books and it was great to be down there on the sidelines watching him and listening," Palmer says. "He was telling me things to think about in certain situations from a defensive standpoint, like in the two-minute drill.”

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