During a conference call on Wednesday afternoon, Oakland Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer praised his old AFC North nemeses the Pittsburgh Steelers, but don't expect a heartfelt reunion on Sunday. The Steelers were less than kind to Palmer on the field throughout his eight seasons as a Cincinnati Bengal, and he expects that pattern to hold.
"It’s going to be a fight in the trenches," Palmer said. "It’s going to be a very physical game upfront. On the outside, they’re going to challenge you, get on you, and try to grab you and hold you. They’re going to try to jump routes and things like that. It’s one of those games where you have to be prepared going into it that it’s not going to be pretty. It’s not going to be a great statistical game for anybody. It’s going to be a dog fight and you have to hold the ball, control the ball and not give it to them.
"... I’ve prepared to play against this defense. This is my 19th or 20th time, I want to say. It’s never easy. You have to spend a lot of time watching film. You have to spend a lot of time on what you’re trying to do with your protections, all the blitzes they have. It’s a great challenge. I look forward to the challenge and I’m excited to play against the best.
Last year in this space I bid adieu to Palmer-as-Bengal, as there was no guarantee that the Steelers would face him again, even with Oakland on the 2012 schedule.
Palmer, who was the first-overall pick in 2003 (and a college roommate of Troy Polamalu), Palmer took the previously hapless Bengals to the postseason twice. Before the 2005 postseason, the Bengals went nearly 15 years without seeing a playoff game.
At the time, Seth Rorabaugh wrote: "Steelers fans should miss seeing Palmer. In 13 games including the postseason, Palmer had a 3-10 record against the Steelers ... he did manage to throw 17 touchdowns versus 11 interceptions against the Steelers ..."
And I added: "some of those INTs were downright epic. Especially against the guy he probably passed on his way to the bathroom on a daily basis.
Here's a highlight reel:
Polamalu absolutely trucks his former roommate Palmer as the last man standing between him and a pick six during their 2004 meeting at Heinz Field:
Then, in their last meeting as Steeler vs. Bengal, Polamalu makes a Superman pick six at Heinz Field last December, but injures his Achilles during the runback -- perhaps Palmer's karmic revenge for the Kimo Von Oelhoffen injury (bottom), as the tweak would limit Polamalu through the postseason and during Super Bowl XLV.
LaMarr Woodley also had a pick six in that game: