Ever been to the postseason in preseason?
Who else but Carson Comeback can take Bengaldom there in August? Aug. 28, 2006 to be exact. In front of anxious teammates, coaches, a sold-out Paul Brown Stadium brimming with a preseason record of 65,614, and a national TV audience, Palmer serves notice that his reconstructed left knee has done him no harm.
Returning to the field where Steelers defensive end Kimo von Oelhoffen chewed off his leg on the second snap of the Wild Card Game a mere seven months before, Palmer drills the Packers with a 136.9 passer rating in the first half as the Bengals race to a 24-0 lead. In his first outing and just three weeks since he began practice, he completes nine of 14 passes for 140 yards, three touchdowns and countless spine-tingling ovations.
The best? It comes on his first long series when he takes a hit, scrambles, and slides for 11 yards. Then he gets up and culminates the drive with a six-yard rope to tight end Reggie Kelly for his first touchdown. Later he'll take a hellacious hit from 300-pound defensive lineman Cullen Jenkins, and get up to watch his pass. Later still he'll throw a beautiful touch lead pass for 28 yards down the sideline to wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh.
The natural world even seemed to salute Palmer's Herculean achievement as a lightning storm rolled through downtown Cincinnati and caused the first weather delay at home in the 39 years of the Bengals.
Palmer goes on to make his second straight Pro Bowl with a 93.9 passer rating and keeps the Bengals alive for the playoffs by living up to Carson Comeback when he generates chances for potential tying or winning points in the last sudden-death drives of each of the last two games. Then he wins MVP of the Pro Bowl 13 months to the day of surgery.
Carson is back.
As in Carson Comeback.