After the 2002 season, Carson Palmer was the hottest young quarterback coming out of college and everyone expected the Bengals with the number 1 overall pick to take him in the 2003 draft. With the first pick, the Bengals did not disappoint and Carson Palmer made it relatively easy by not holding out and signing his rookie tender. Palmer sat out the 2003 season while John Kitna orchestrated the Bengals first non-losing season in 13 years. Palmer took the helm in 2004 and after a rocky 1-4 start, finished the season 7-4 and once again an 8-8 season.
2005 is what started the Bengals turnaround with Palmer throwing 33 touchdowns to just 13 interceptions, a Bengals franchise record. Palmer and the Bengals rolled to an 11-5 record, winning the AFC North and hosting a home playoff game, where they met their arch nemesis the Pittsburgh Steelers. We all know about Kimo Von Oelhoffen and the infamous roll into Palmer’s knee and the injury that followed.
Palmer came out in 2006 and looked like he hadn’t missed a beat. However, the Bengals could not repeat the success of 2005 and went on to an 8-8 record. Once again in 2007 expectations were high and the Bengals were only able to muster 7 wins on their way to a 7-9 season. In 2008, Palmer was sidelined with a mystery elbow injury in what was probably one of the more difficult seasons to watch. 2009 was a good bounce back year, with Hard Knocks filming at training camp, the Bengals sweeping the AFC North and winning the division for the second time in four years. 2010 was most definitely the most difficult year in recent history to be a Bengals fan. Watching the Bengals dwindle to a 4-12 record and now picking 4th overall in 2011.