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 brutal 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 carted away on a stretcher.
The Chiefs reported later the injury was not as bad as it seemed. Green had "pretty severe head trauma," said Chiefs general manager Carl Peterson, 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," said Palmer. "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. But 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 that 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," said Cincinnati head coach Marvin Lewis. "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 gaping hole on the right side. Then Kenny Watson made it 17-3 with an 8-yard TD run.
"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. But he refused to discuss Geathers' hit. As the quarterback went into a feet-first hook 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."
Geathers said he thought Chiefs wide receiver Eddie Kennison
pushed him into Green and that it was not a particularly hard hit.
"I didn't think it was. I know I didn't hit him head-to-head," he said. "I think it was my shoulder pad that hit him in his chest.
"It's hard watching him down there on the ground and knowing that he has a family and everything," he said.
From 2001-05, Green passed for more yards (16,334) than any quarterback in the NFL but Peyton Manning. With 4,014 yards last year, he became just the fourth quarterback in NFL history to post three straight 4,000-yard seasons. He had made 80 straight starts going into the season. ... Larry Johnson rushed for 68 yards on 17 carries, the first time in 10 games he did not have at least 100 yards.