GLENDALE, Ariz. — Arizona Cardinal quarterback Carson Palmer said something that was a bit inaccurate following his team’s 27-13 win over the Atlanta Falcons Sunday at University of Phoenix Stadium.
“You don’t see four interceptions by their quarterback very often, that’s a bit surprising,” he said.
You see, the Cardinals, who picked off Falcons QB Matt Ryan four times Sunday, tallied five interceptions against him in a game last season.
But, unlike last year when the Cardinals’ offense wasted a fantastic defensive effort against one of the NFL’s best passers, this time was different.
This time, the Cardinals had Andre Ellington run for 154 yards and a touchdown on just 15 carries. Stepfan Taylor added 38 yards on 14 carries of his own.
This time, the Cardinals held the Falcons’ running backs to a paltry 14 yards on 13 carries. It was actually Ryan, the quarterback, who led the team in rushing yards with 13.
This time, the head coach did not pull a struggling quarterback early in the game. Following his first quarter interception, Palmer completed 11-of-14 passes for 149 yards and two touchdowns.
This time, the Cardinals got the win, and it evened up their record at 4-4 as they head into the bye week.
“It’s a lot more fun when you’re 4-4 and you win then when you’re 3-5 and you’re starting from scratch,” Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said after the game. “A lot of things would have been said had we lost this game in a lot of different areas.”
Of course, it is just one win and it came at home against a reeling opponent after having extra time to rest up and prepare. Had the Cardinals lost, there is no doubt plenty would have been said about the team, be it a need to replace Palmer or that Arians’ style may not be working as much as people hoped.
At the very least, the win bought the Cardinals a two-week window.
Arians added that the Cardinals won as a team Sunday, and it’s true. For the first time this season, the slogan “Team is What it Takes” held true. Offense, defense and special teams — this one had it all.
The Cardinals beat up an opponent they were supposed to beat up, and while not reason to throw a parade, it’s certainly a noteworthy accomplishment for a team still trying to find its way.
“It feels so good right now,” defensive end Calais Campbell said. “Especially going into our bye week it’s something we can build off of for the second half of the season.”
“It’s a relief,” linebacker Daryl Washington added. “To be 4-4 right now sitting at .500. We’ll get a chance to get some rest and take care of our bodies and get ready for our home game.”
Two weeks from now the Cardinals will return to UofP Stadium to face the Houston Texans. Like the Falcons, the Texans were a preseason Super Bowl contender. Also like the Falcons, the Texans have struggled mightily this season.
That game, of course, is followed by a visit to Jacksonville, where the worst team in the NFL resides. After a win like this one, where everything worked, it’s easy to look ahead and wonder where this team could be just a few weeks from now.
“It’s obviously a big win, but we’ve got a long way to go,” Palmer said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do. That’s four wins. We’re going to worry about number five and not worry about anything else. We’re going to worry about number six and not worry about anything else.
“Nothing has been accomplished.”
Nothing has been accomplished, unless you count returning the positive vibe for the Valley’s football team.
Amazing what a good, solid win can do.