Palmer returns from knee injury with win over Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Now it’s Carson Palmer’s turn to return the kindness and reach out to Trent Green.

When Palmer went down last January with a devastating knee injury, Green was one of the first to call the Cincinnati quarterback. Although the two barely knew each other, Green offered words of encouragement, advice drawn upon his own experience with career-threatening knee problems.

Now, on the day Palmer made a triumphant comeback by leading the Bengals to a 23-10 victory over Kansas City, Green was the one rushed to a hospital.

A hit by Cincinnati’s Robert Geathers – which the Chiefs expect to be reviewed by the league office – left the Kansas City quarterback unconscious on the turf. The game was delayed 11 minutes while he was carefully taken away on a gurney.

The Chiefs reported later the injury was not as bad as it seemed. Green had “pretty severe head trauma,” general manager Carl Peterson said, but X-rays were negative.

No doubt, Palmer was just about as happy at that news as the nearly 80,000 fans who sat hushed while attendants carted their popular quarterback away. The attendants held their hands under Green’s helmet to gently steady his head.

“It’s tough in this kind of small fraternity of quarterbacks in this league, when you see a quarterback go down like that,” Palmer said. “You just start praying for him and that’s all you can do and hope for the best.”

Palmer has said often how much he appreciated hearing from Green.

“He was very helpful when he called, and he gave me good advice,” he said.

Palmer, exactly eight months after surgeons repaired his mangled left knee, was not sharp at the beginning. Then the Bengals went to their no-huddle offense and he hit nine passes in a row in an impressive stretch that seemed to announce he’s ready to return to the league’s elite.

Once Palmer found his touch, Rudi Johnson and Kenny Watson scored touchdowns in a 17-point second-quarter. Palmer, who was injured in the opening minutes of Cincinnati’s playoff loss to Pittsburgh last January, was 13-for-19 for 127 yards.

The Bengals had seven sacks of Green and backup Damon Huard, running through a revamped Chiefs line which includes two new tackles.

“We had some things early on, a couple of things on offense that kind of slowed us up a little bit,” Cincinnati head coach Marvin Lewis said. “But once we got those corrected, we played good football.”

Palmer was 5-for-5 for 51 yards in Cincinnati’s first touchdown drive, capped by Rudi Johnson’s 22-yard scamper through a huge hole on the right side. Then Kenny Watson made it 17-3 with an 8-yard TD run.

Shayne Graham kicked three field goals for the Bengals, the defending AFC North champs. Huard hit Tony Gonzalez with a 9-yard TD pass for Kansas City’s lone touchdown in the fourth period.

“They’re a good football team,” said Herm Edwards, who had an unhappy debut as Kansas City’s head coach. “You can’t give them a lead. You can’t turn the ball over and give them field position.”

Edwards said Huard would start next week if Green can’t. He refused to discuss Geathers’ hit.

As Green went into a feet-first slide, the Bengals’ defensive end came flying in and appeared to slam his right shoulder into the quarterback’s chest or helmet, snapping Green’s head into the turf.

“The officials have to look at it on tape,” Edwards said. “We’ve been advised that we don’t comment on officials’ calls. I’m not going to get into it. Obviously, it will get looked at by the guys up in New York. I’ll leave it at that.”