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PFF: Carson Palmer had Week 15’s best performance; Earl Watford one of the worst

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) throws against the New Orleans Saints during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2016, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

The Arizona Cardinals did not beat the New Orleans Saints Sunday.

No, the Cardinals fell in their final home game of the season by a score of 48-41, and while it was certainly a disappointing performance, there were some bright spots in the game.

One of them was QB Carson Palmer, who ProFootballFocus said had the best game of anyone in the NFL during Week 15 by completing 28-of-40 passes for 318 yards and two touchdowns without an interception.

There’s something oddly fitting about this season for the Cardinals, who finally saw a performance from their QB Carson Palmer reminiscent of his amazing 2015 play, and lost the game anyway as the defense shipped 48 points to the New Orleans Saints. Palmer was excellent, completing 70 percent of his passes for 320 yards, and if anything he was short-changed by those numbers because three drops from his receivers cost him at least 67 yards (plus ample run-after-catch opportunity).

On Monday morning, Cardinals GM Steve Keim said he thought Palmer “played excellent” against the Saints, adding he thought it was one of the veteran’s better games.

“Showed tremendous accuracy and touch, particularly behind an offensive line who we know has been put together, so to speak, with patchwork,” he said.

Palmer posted a QB rating of 110.2, which is actually his third-highest of the season behind the 124.9 rating he had against Tampa Bay and the 111.0 rating he notched in a loss to Carolina.

But while Palmer had himself a good day, according to the same folks over at PFF, one of his offensive linemen had a rough afternoon, as they said Earl Watford had the second-worst performance in Week 15.

Earl Watford surrendered a sack and three hurries across 44 pass-blocking snaps, but was also flagged for a false start penalty and given more than he could handle in the run game, surrendering a tackle for loss to the Saints’ Cameron Jordan on one play. He did at least have one nice block, flattening safety Roman Harper on a pull block early in the fourth quarter, but other than that it was a game to forget for Watford in the loss to New Orleans.

Watford, who has spent most of this season playing right guard, played the first two games of last season at right tackle, but had yet to start there this season. Still, while he may not have had a great game, Palmer did have enough protection to have a good game while the Cardinals also had success running the ball, so in some ways the lineman probably did his job well enough.

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