CINCINNATI -- Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer tore the
anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his left knee Sunday when he was
tackled low on his first pass during Cincinnati's playoff game
The injury ended a remarkable season for the second-year
starter, who led the NFL with 32 touchdown passes and made his
first Pro Bowl.
Backup Jon Kitna, who has played sparingly this season and will
be a free agent afterward, got the chore of trying to lead the
Bengals to a win in their first playoff game in 15 years.
Palmer was on the field for only two plays -- a handoff and then
a deep pass down the right sideline to rookie Chris Henry. He stood
in the pocket for an extra second, giving him time to complete a
66-yard pass -- the longest completion in Bengals playoff history.
Nose tackle Kimo von Oelhoffen hit Palmer's leg as he released the
Palmer wears a protective brace on the knee, but it still bowed
inward. Palmer hit the ground and stayed down for several minutes
while the medical staff looked at his knee. His face was downcast
as he was carted off the field and taken inside for evaluation.
Medical personnel said after the game that because both ligament injuries were "clean tears," recovery is expected to be somewhat less problematic than in some past torn ligament cases regarding athletes.
Palmer is expected to undergo surgery to repair the two ligaments in the coming days.
Six plays after Palmer was hurt, Henry hurt his right knee
during a pass play and had to be helped off the field. Henry went
to the locker room for an exam, and the club didn't expect him to
return. Backup Kelley Washington was inactive for the game, leaving
the Bengals without a proven No. 3 receiver.
In losing Palmer, the Bengals were forced to go on without the
player most responsible for their AFC North championship and their
return to the playoffs.
Palmer set a club record with his 32 touchdown passes and
completed 67.8 percent of his throws, also a league high, in only
his second season as a starter. The club gave him a contract
extension through 2014 a little more than a week ago.
He started all 16 games this season, but played sparingly in the
final regular-season game at Kansas City because he was coming off
a strained groin. Palmer hadn't taken many hard hits this season --
he was sacked no more than two times in any game.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.