Romo, Palmer, other QBs know their legacies are made in the playoffs

Aaron Rodgers and Mark Sanchez are preparing for their first playoff games, and Carson Palmer and Tony Romo are seeking their first playoff victory.

Quarterbacks make their legacy in the postseason, and the four seeking their first playoff win this weekend are well aware.

"The quarterback is going to be judged, fair or unfair, by success in the playoffs," Rodgers told reporters this week. "You remember the Terry Bradshaws, the Joe Montanas, Tom Brady, who have won three or four Super Bowls. That’s not my main focus, but at some point you’d love to be mentioned in the same breath as guys like that who have won multiple Super Bowls."

Bengals' Carson Palmer looks for first playoff win on Saturday against the Jets.
Bengals’ Carson Palmer looks for first playoff win on Saturday against the Jets.

What will it take for these four quarterbacks to taste playoff success?

Carson Palmer, Bengals

Playoff record: 0-1.
Saturday’s opponent: Jets.

Why he might prevail:
One of the game’s best pure passers, Palmer has proven his worth in the clutch. Four times this season, Palmer has engineered game-winning drives either in the fourth quarter or in overtime. If Saturday’s game against the Jets is close down the stretch, Palmer’s coolness and experience gives him an edge over the rookie Sanchez.

Why he might fail:
This has been one of Palmer’s worst statistical seasons, ranking 16th among NFL quarterbacks in passer rating (83.6). The Bengals have become a run-first team and do not have a quick-strike offense. The late Chris Henry –- who was on IR when he died — was Palmer’s best deep threat, and without him, their offense has had trouble stretching the field.

Meanwhile, Palmer’s favorite target, Chad Ochocinco, will be shadowed by perhaps the NFL’s best cornerback, Darrelle Revis. If Revis locks up Ochocinco, and Rex Ryan’s blitzing schemes get to Palmer, it could be a long day for the Bengals.

"You’ve got to be able to throw the football to win now," Palmer said. "We just need to keep working on it. We need to catch heat a little bit and get rolling here soon."

Aaron Rodgers, Packers

Playoff record: 0-0.
Sunday’s opponent: Cardinals.

Why he might prevail:
Rodgers’ accuracy and arm strength allow him to throw into tight coverage without making mistakes. Rodgers attempted 541 passes this season yet threw just seven interceptions, the league’s best pass/interception ratio. And despite his youth, nothing seems to rattle Rodgers.

"I’m just impressed with the way he handles everything. The whole saga with Brett, consistently being the same guy, very even-keeled," Cardinals QB Kurt Warner said. "On top of that, he’s as physically gifted as anybody I’ve seen.

"He can throw the ball — it’s almost effortless. He moves well; he makes good decisions; he can throw on the run. When we were talking, I asked if I could just have a little bit of that arm. I don’t know what that feels like — to be able to throw it like he can."

Why he might fail:
Rodgers was sacked 50 times this season, tied with Ben Roethlisberger for most in the league. The Packers did a better job protecting Rodgers late in the season, and he did a better job getting rid of the ball.

However, expect the Cardinals to test the Packers’ offensive line with blitzes and line stunts the Cardinals did not unveil in last weekend’s matchup. As good as Rodgers is, the Packers’ passing game will suffer if he is being sacked or hurried consistently.

Tony Romo, Cowboys

Playoff record: 0-2.
Saturday’s opponent: Eagles.

Why he might prevail:
Romo is 2-0 vs. the Eagles this season, including last weekend, when he carved up Philadelphia (24-for-34 passing, 311 yards, two touchdowns). Unnerving Romo with blitz packages is harder for the Eagles than it used to be.

"He’s one of the elite quarterbacks in the league, the way he’s played this year on a consistent basis," Eagles defensive coordinator Sean McDermott said. "We’ve seen it over the years from Romo, where he’s been up and down. But this year, I think the consistency and probably the maturation process that he’s gone through has shown."

Why he might fail: The Eagles have won seven consecutive playoff openers. If they avoid falling behind early, more and more pressure will shift to the Cowboys. Until Romo and coach Wade Phillips (0-4 career playoff record) win in postseason, they will carry the psychological burden that comes with past failures.

"You really have to put it out of your head," said Tony Dungy, former Colts coach and current NBC analyst. "That’s easier said than done because you’re going to hear it."

Mark Sanchez, Jets

Playoff record: 0-0.
Saturday’s opponent: Bengals.

Why he might prevail:
With the NFL’s top running game and NFL’s top defense, the Jets have a formula for success. They will play to their strengths, try to keep Sanchez’s throws to a minimum and ask him to avoid turnovers. The Jets are 5-0 in games that Sanchez has thrown fewer than 20 passes.

"We just need him to be efficient, play the position, and I think he knows that," Ryan said.

Why he might fail:
If the Bengals choke off the Jets’ running game or if the Jets fall behind, Sanchez might be forced to throw more than Jets coaches would prefer. That could spell huge trouble for the Jets, who are 0-5 when Sanchez has thrown two or more interceptions. Sanchez also must handle the nerves that come with being a rookie quarterback in the playoffs.

"There will be a point maybe before the game, midway through the game, halftime, where I (will say), ‘This is unbelievable,’" Sanchez said.

Clifton Brown is a writer for Sporting News. E-mail him at cliftonbrown@sportingnews.com.

Aaron Rodgers and Mark Sanchez are preparing for their first playoff games, and Carson Palmer and Tony Romo are seeking their first playoff victory.

Quarterbacks make their legacy in the postseason, and the four seeking their first playoff win this weekend are well aware.

"The quarterback is going to be judged, fair or unfair, by success in the playoffs," Rodgers told reporters this week. "You remember the Terry Bradshaws, the Joe Montanas, Tom Brady, who have won three or four Super Bowls. That’s not my main focus, but at some point you’d love to be mentioned in the same breath as guys like that who have won multiple Super Bowls."

Bengals' Carson Palmer looks for first playoff win on Saturday against the Jets.
Bengals’ Carson Palmer looks for first playoff win on Saturday against the Jets.

What will it take for these four quarterbacks to taste playoff success?

Carson Palmer, Bengals

Playoff record: 0-1.
Saturday’s opponent: Jets.

Why he might prevail:
One of the game’s best pure passers, Palmer has proven his worth in the clutch. Four times this season, Palmer has engineered game-winning drives either in the fourth quarter or in overtime. If Saturday’s game against the Jets is close down the stretch, Palmer’s coolness and experience gives him an edge over the rookie Sanchez.

Why he might fail:
This has been one of Palmer’s worst statistical seasons, ranking 16th among NFL quarterbacks in passer rating (83.6). The Bengals have become a run-first team and do not have a quick-strike offense. The late Chris Henry –- who was on IR when he died — was Palmer’s best deep threat, and without him, their offense has had trouble stretching the field.

Meanwhile, Palmer’s favorite target, Chad Ochocinco, will be shadowed by perhaps the NFL’s best cornerback, Darrelle Revis. If Revis locks up Ochocinco, and Rex Ryan’s blitzing schemes get to Palmer, it could be a long day for the Bengals.

"You’ve got to be able to throw the football to win now," Palmer said. "We just need to keep working on it. We need to catch heat a little bit and get rolling here soon."

Aaron Rodgers, Packers

Playoff record: 0-0.
Sunday’s opponent: Cardinals.

Why he might prevail:
Rodgers’ accuracy and arm strength allow him to throw into tight coverage without making mistakes. Rodgers attempted 541 passes this season yet threw just seven interceptions, the league’s best pass/interception ratio. And despite his youth, nothing seems to rattle Rodgers.

"I’m just impressed with the way he handles everything. The whole saga with Brett, consistently being the same guy, very even-keeled," Cardinals QB Kurt Warner said. "On top of that, he’s as physically gifted as anybody I’ve seen.

"He can throw the ball — it’s almost effortless. He moves well; he makes good decisions; he can throw on the run. When we were talking, I asked if I could just have a little bit of that arm. I don’t know what that feels like — to be able to throw it like he can."

Why he might fail:
Rodgers was sacked 50 times this season, tied with Ben Roethlisberger for most in the league. The Packers did a better job protecting Rodgers late in the season, and he did a better job getting rid of the ball.

However, expect the Cardinals to test the Packers’ offensive line with blitzes and line stunts the Cardinals did not unveil in last weekend’s matchup. As good as Rodgers is, the Packers’ passing game will suffer if he is being sacked or hurried consistently.

Tony Romo, Cowboys

Playoff record: 0-2.
Saturday’s opponent: Eagles.

Why he might prevail:
Romo is 2-0 vs. the Eagles this season, including last weekend, when he carved up Philadelphia (24-for-34 passing, 311 yards, two touchdowns). Unnerving Romo with blitz packages is harder for the Eagles than it used to be.

"He’s one of the elite quarterbacks in the league, the way he’s played this year on a consistent basis," Eagles defensive coordinator Sean McDermott said. "We’ve seen it over the years from Romo, where he’s been up and down. But this year, I think the consistency and probably the maturation process that he’s gone through has shown."

Why he might fail: The Eagles have won seven consecutive playoff openers. If they avoid falling behind early, more and more pressure will shift to the Cowboys. Until Romo and coach Wade Phillips (0-4 career playoff record) win in postseason, they will carry the psychological burden that comes with past failures.

"You really have to put it out of your head," said Tony Dungy, former Colts coach and current NBC analyst. "That’s easier said than done because you’re going to hear it."

Mark Sanchez, Jets

Playoff record: 0-0.
Saturday’s opponent: Bengals.

Why he might prevail:
With the NFL’s top running game and NFL’s top defense, the Jets have a formula for success. They will play to their strengths, try to keep Sanchez’s throws to a minimum and ask him to avoid turnovers. The Jets are 5-0 in games that Sanchez has thrown fewer than 20 passes.

"We just need him to be efficient, play the position, and I think he knows that," Ryan said.

Why he might fail:
If the Bengals choke off the Jets’ running game or if the Jets fall behind, Sanchez might be forced to throw more than Jets coaches would prefer. That could spell huge trouble for the Jets, who are 0-5 when Sanchez has thrown two or more interceptions. Sanchez also must handle the nerves that come with being a rookie quarterback in the playoffs.

"There will be a point maybe before the game, midway through the game, halftime, where I (will say), ‘This is unbelievable,’" Sanchez said.

Clifton Brown is a writer for Sporting News. E-mail him at cliftonbrown@sportingnews.com.

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