Carson Palmer had a rough start Sunday night against the Bengals, throwing two interceptions and presiding over a three-and-out on the Cardinals’ first three possessions.
Just how nervous was the 35-year-old to face his former team?
“Well, he admitted he was pressing probably in the beginning,” AZCardinals.com writer Darren Urban said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “But if he ever was nervous, that’s not something Carson’s ever going to talk about. I don’t know how much of it was nervousness as much as pressing to make big plays that weren’t there. He admitted the deep interception where he was going to take the shot to J.J. Nelson early, he knew before the ball was even out of his hand that it was a mistake, but by that point, he couldn’t stop himself. So he really had a chance to rally. This has been two weeks in a row where there’s been a couple of turnovers and he’s been able to come back and rally from that – and obviously he rallied in a big way with the four touchdowns.”
Indeed, Palmer had four scores, including three in the third quarter alone, to rally the Cardinals (8-2) to a 34-31 win. He finished 20-of-31 for 317 yards, finding Nelson, Josh Brown, Darren Fells and David Johnson for touchdowns. He also found Larry Fitzgerald for eight catches for 90 yards.
As Amy Lawrence observed, the Cardinals have receiving targets like the Golden State Warriors have three-point shooters.
“I love the comparison to the Warriors because I think that’s an apt description,” Urban said. “They do have a lot of targets. Jermaine Gresham at tight end has been playing well, and I don’t think they even threw at him at all tonight, much less him having a catch. So they have a lot of different places they can throw the ball. It’s a great luxury for Palmer to have, but I think the big thing is you’ve got your quarterback playing at a high level and I think in a lot of ways he can turn these guys into productive receivers because he is so good with where ehe’s going with the ball these days. They’re such a dangerous offensive team, and I think they can move the ball against anybody in this league.”
The Cardinals did exactly that in the fourth quarter, marching 70 yards in six plays to set up Chandler Catanzaro’s game-winning 32-yard field goal. That entire drive was a product of Bruce Arians. Other coaches would have just played for overtime.
“You go to love the fact that he does it his way,” Urban said. “Here’s a guy who says what he wants, he calls the plays that he wants. At the end of the game, they’re on their own 16-yard-line, they’ve got no timeouts with 58 seconds and there wasn’t anybody in that building that thought they might play for overtime. Everybody knew they were going to take their shots. And it might backfire and the Bengals might get he ball back, but it doesn’t matter because that’s who Bruce Arians is. I think he’s well-respected because he does things his way. He’s blunt, he will criticize his players, he will criticize his players in public – but it doesn’t seem to bother them that much because that’s who he is and he’s going to tell them the same things to (their) face. So he’s just honest and I think that’s what most impresses me. He came into this job, he knew it was going to be his last job no matter what, he’s going to do it the way he wants to do it, and if he fails he fails. So far, he’s not failing.”