OWINGS MILLS - Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees was expecting to see a quarterback with a diminishing skill set.
Now 32 years old, Carson Palmer is six years removed from his last Pro Bowl season. His arm, once viewed as one of the strongest in the NFL, has been perceived by many to be weaker since Palmer suffered ligament and tendon damage to his throwing elbow in 2008.
Yet, watching film, Pees didn't see a quarterback on the decline.
Baltimore hosts Palmer and the Oakland Raiders Sunday.
"When I started looking at them, I thought 'OK, I will probably see a quarterback that has probably diminished a little bit,'" Pees admitted. "I don't see it. I don't see it. I saw [Palmer] throw a 15-yard comeback from the opposite hash, which he has done before.
"He stands in the pocket. He stands tall. He delivers the ball. I don't see a lot of difference in Carson Palmer now than when we used to play him."
Palmer is enjoying a resurgence of sorts in his second season with the Raiders.
He's throwing for an average of 294 yards per game and is on pace to finish the season with what would be a career-best 4,710 passing yards. He's tossed eight interceptions but also has 13 touchdown passes.
He threw for 414 yards and four scores during Oakland's 42-32 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week, although he did also have three interceptions.
"He can [still] make every throw," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "There's not a throw he can't make. And when he's on, he's on time [and] can really stick it in a tight window."
Palmer has a long history with Baltimore.
Selected by the Cincinnati Bengals with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2003 NFL draft, Palmer spent the first eight years of his career in the AFC North prior to being traded to the Raiders midway through last season.
Palmer is 9-4 in his career against the Ravens. He has thrown for 3,202 yards against Baltimore, his highest total against any team.
"He is one of those underrated quarterbacks that can make every throw," Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs said. "You all saw it when he was in Cincinnati. I remember vividly games I thought we had won and Carson Palmer got in his groove and torched us."
Palmer threw three fourth quarter touchdowns against Baltimore in 2004, helping the Bengals erase a 17-point fourth quarter deficit and come away with a stunning 27-26 victory.
He lifted Cincinnati to another dramatic victory against the Ravens in 2009, tossing a 20-yard scoring pass with 22 seconds remaining to propel the Bengals to a 17-14 win.
Palmer was a two-time Pro Bowler with Cincinnati, but he suffered the elbow injury in 2008, demanded a trade following the 2010 season and mulled retirement before being dealt to the Raiders last October.
He threw for 2,753 yards and 13 touchdowns in eight games after being traded but also tossed 16 interceptions.
A year later, the interceptions are down and he's on track for one of the best statistical seasons of his career.
With speedsters Denarius Moore, Darrius Heyward-Bey and Rod Streater on the outside, Palmer is tied for sixth in the NFL with 29 passing plays of 20 yards or more.
"He's always looking for the big home run," said Baltimore offensive lineman Bobbie Williams, a teammate of Palmer's with the Bengals from 2004 to 2010. "That's something that hasn't changed. And if it's there, he'll definitely go after it."
Moore (16.2) and Heyward-Bey (15.2) are both averaging more than 15 yards per catch.
Moore leads Oakland in receiving yards (485) and touchdown catches (4).
The Ravens are ranked 22nd in the NFL in pass defense.
"They take a lot of shots down the field with down the field routes," Baltimore linebacker Jameel McClain said. "Everybody that he has in the lineup has the speed to get down there, so that's definitely something they're capable of, and [Palmer's] arm can keep up with their speed."