GLENDALE, Ariz. — It’s 3rd-and-5. You’re on your own 25-yard line, trailing by three points.
You’re inclined to call a play to just get enough for the first down and keep the possession going, right?
If you answered ‘yes’ to that question, you are not Bruce Arians.
In that very situation, Carson Palmer dropped back to pass and flung a deep pass to rookie John Brown, who ran under it and hauled it in for a 75-yard touchdown pass with 1:21 to go that gave the Arizona Cardinals a 24-20 win over the Philadelphia Eagles at University of Phoenix Stadium.
“We thought they’d be sitting on the sticks,” Arians said about Philadelphia’s defense on the play. “They had been bracketing back there in and out a number of times — we had that play called twice before, but didn’t have time to throw it.
“It’s a play we love to call in that situation.”
Brown, who has been a huge find in his rookie season out of Pittsburg State, had a feeling he’d get open on the play.
“It’s a great feeling, that is the play we’re looking for, when it’s time to step up, that’s what you have to do,” he said. “They had a safety on me, and when they put him on me, all I have to do is run past him.”
And run past him Brown did. That safety was Nate Allen. But Brown also outran cornerback Cary Williams on the 75-yard score, the longest catch of his career so far.
The only thing Brown had to worry about is catching up with the ball.
“I thought he overthrew me a little bit, but it turned out to be a great throw from Carson.”
In just his seventh professional game, Brown scored his team-leading fourth touchdown. While many around the country are shocked by the rookie’s output so far, his quarterback is not among them.
“I’m not surprised, it’s not like ‘wow, the rookie did that,'” Palmer said. “I’ve seen it time and time with him. He executes the play that’s called, which is difficult in this offense for a guy who’s playing two different positions. Nothing’s too big for him.
“He was excited to catch the game-winner, but I think he expected to once we got that right coverage.”
Like the player on the receiving end of the throw, Palmer had no doubt that he didn’t overthrow his target.
“I’ve seen that gear he has,” he said. “I’ve seen it in practice. I’ve seen it in games. He puts into fourth, fifth and sixth gear to go get it. That’s something he does all the time in practice and has done it a couple times in games.”
When asked if he could give a little more insight into the play call that won the game for the Cardinals, Arians was comically tight-lipped.
“No, not really. We play Dallas next week, I’m not giving them (expletive),” he said with a broad smile.
Brown was a little more willing to give information on the play.
“They had two safeties outside and no guy over me and Carson gave me a signal,” he said. “Carson is always looking for the big play, so I knew I had to turn it on.”
Palmer, however, was a little more tight-lipped — or at least he tried to be.
“The rookie,” he said when notified that Brown had talked about the hand signal on the line of scrimmage. “We have a lot of signals. Some are dummy signals, some are live signals. I guess it’s too late to call it a dummy signal, but we’ve got some work to do, some communication.”