Cardinals having Carson Palmer for Seahawks is the “difference between a win and a loss”
TEMPE, Ariz. – The last time Carson Palmer traveled to Seattle, Wash., with the Cardinals was on Dec. 22, 2013, and he didn’t have his finest performance that day. He went 13-of-25 for 178 yards and four interceptions, but he did throw one touchdown pass, and it proved to be the game winner. Palmer hit wide receiver Michael Floyd on a 31-yard touchdown pass with 2:13 left in the fourth quarter. Arizona would go on to beat Seattle 17-10, handing them their only home loss of the season.
Palmer didn’t accompany the team to the Pacific Northwest last season, nor did he play against Seattle when they came to Glendale, Ariz., for the next-to-last game of the season. The ACL injury he suffered against the St. Louis Rams last November wiped out the remainder of his season.
What a difference a year makes though. Palmer is as healthy as he’s ever been, and he’s putting up MVP-type numbers. Those two things have head coach Bruce Arians and the rest of the team excited about Sunday night’s game with the Seahawks, simply because No. 3 will be running thing in prime time.
“I guess it’s the difference between a win and a loss. If you have your quarterback, you have a chance,” Arians said. “We didn’t support Drew (Stanton) well enough up there last year. We had 10 men on the punt block, we dropped a touchdown. We beat ourselves, really. As far as the confidence in the locker room when Carson is in there, it’s totally different.”
“Anytime we’re playing with him (Palmer) on the field, we feel like we can beat anybody anywhere,” Arians said. “We’ve been in most games with him, and in that game, he threw four interceptions, so it wasn’t a perfect game. We ran the ball efficiently (43 rushes for 139 yards), not great, in that game, but our defense kept us in the game, where it allows us to do that. You run it 40 times when you’re in a close game.”
Palmer is a man with a lot on his mind, obviously, in getting himself and his team ready for their division rivals on the road. However, all that preparation hasn’t wiped the feelings away that he had after that huge win at CenturyLink Field.
“It felt really good. It felt really good for it to go from so loud to so quiet fast,” Palmer said. “It’s a great challenge. It’s obviously a difficult place to play. I think Carolina’s (Panthers) the only other team that’s been in there and gotten away with one. We understand the challenge at hand. We’re looking forward to this. This is one we’ve had circled for a while now and I think everybody’s excited that the two-game series starts there. It’s a great opportunity. It’s a huge game and we’re looking forward to it.”
Offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin gets the great opportunity to help draw up plays for Palmer to run, and he’s right on the sideline to watch him do his magic. He says the team is confident because Palmer’s playing top-flight football, plus he’s got a strong running attack to lean on as well.
“The biggest thing we gotta do is just make sure we’re executing,” Goodwin said. “Because you guys know, when we don’t execute, and we’re turning the ball over, we don’t look very good. But when we’re on it, and we’re playing well, we look pretty good, like one of the best offenses in the league.”
Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, like Palmer, is having a season for the ages. They’re both healthy, and on the same page, as evidenced by Palmer getting the ball to Fitzgerald more times than any other wide receiver on the team.
Fitzgerald’s 55 catches, 706 yards receiving and seven touchdowns, he says, are a by-product of Palmer getting more and more comfortable in Arians’ offensive system, which isn’t the easiest one in the league to master.
“He’s (Palmer) got great command of everything now. He knows exactly where to go with the football at all times,” Fitzgerald said. “He knows everything that B.A. (Bruce Arians) has laid out for him. Just him having that confidence gives us a lot of confidence too to go out there and execute. Even in the huddle, he says, ‘Fitz, if we get this look, I’m gonna come to you,’ or, ‘Mike (Floyd), be ready.’ He’s feeding us information in the huddle, so we can go out there and play fast.”
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