After the Steelers take a 31-21 lead in the 3rd-quarter of Sunday’s game vs. the Raiders and appeared to be on the verge of going into their bye-week 2-1 with Pro Bowlers James Harrison, Troy Polamalu, and Rashard Mendenhall set to return, it looked as though once again the Steelers would be primed for another playoff-berth, potentially claiming one of the final wild-card spots over the Bengals when the 2012 season concludes.
Former Bengals and current Raiders QB Carson Palmer wasn’t about to let that happen. After the first two games of the year saw Palmer look like the regressing quarterback everyone believed he had become, he played like the franchise QB the Bengals drafted #1 overall in 2003. He completed 14/19 passes for 150 yards and a TD in the 3rd and 4th-quarters, including the final drive of the game when he drove the Raiders down for the game-winning field goal to sink Pittsburgh to 1-2 going into their bye-week.
This may have been the biggest victory for the Bengals thus far that wasn’t actually a Bengals win. That’s because Cincinnati now already hold a 1 game lead on the Steelers for one of the two wild-card playoff spots, as the Ravens hold the lead in the AFC North by virtue of their head-to-head win in week-1 against the Bengals. Not only do the Bengals have a 1-game lead over Pittsburgh, they also host the Raiders in November, and if they can beat the Raiders and split the season series with Pittsburgh, a Bengals win over the Raiders could be used as a tie-breaking procedure if they and the Steelers finish with identical records:
- Head-to-head (best won-lost-tied percentage in games between the clubs).
- Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the division.
- Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games.
- Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference.
Those last two would apply to a Bengals win over the Raiders vs. a Pittsburgh loss to the Raiders. Palmer may not still be in Bengals stripes, but his efforts are still paying dividends in the Queen City.