The 5: Carson Palmer’s top performances as Cardinal by QB rating
Carson Palmer and the only coach he’s known as an Arizona Cardinal, Bruce Arians, rode off into the sunset with one another in January 2018. This, of course, was before Arians got the itch to return as coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Palmer, meanwhile, has appeared to enjoy retirement. He’ll be back in the spotlight Sunday at the Cardinals’ halftime against the Seattle Seahawks, when he is inducted into the team’s Ring of Honor at State Farm Stadium.
Is there an objective way to quantify Palmer’s best outings in Arizona?
Well, we can try. Based off of quarterback ratings, here are the gunslinger’s best games as a Cardinal.
154.2 – Oct. 11, 2015 vs. Lions
Only once had Palmer thrown with a higher passer rating to this point as a member of the Cincinnati Bengals. And he made it look easy.
Arizona scored 28 points in the second quarter after falling behind 7-0 and won 42-17 with Palmer sprinkling in touchdown passes to Darren Fells, John Brown and Larry Fitzgerald. Two short touchdown runs by David Johnson, and big gains by backs Chris Johnson (103 rushing yards) and Andre Ellington (63-yard touchdown jaunt), helped the Cardinals open up the passing attack.
Palmer finished having completed 11-of-14 passes for 161 yards and three touchdowns with no picks.
How bad was the performance for the Lions? Two weeks later, Detroit, which started 1-7, fired its offensive coordinator. A month later, the president and general manager got canned.
139.4 – Oct. 15, 2017 vs. Bucs
With the help of Adrian Peterson’s 134-yard rushing output and two touchdowns, Palmer and the passing game found it easy to pick on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 6.
Palmer found tight end Troy Niklas, plus receivers John Brown and Fitzgerald for scores during his 18-of-22 passing day. The quarterback threw for 283 yards and had his impressive quarterback rating despite an interception grabbed by the Bucs’ Brent Grimes.
124.9 – Sept. 18, 2016 vs. Bucs
Palmer completed 17-of-30 passes for 304 yards — that’s 10.1 yards per throw — with three touchdowns and no interceptions. The 40-7 blowout in Week 2 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was a sound response after Arizona dropped its opener against a Tom Brady-less New England Patriots team.
All three of Palmer’s scores came in a 24-point outburst during the second quarter. He found Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd inside the 5-yard line but also connected with Jaron Brown for a 51-yard touchdown, giving Arizona a 24-0 lead.
122.8 – Sept. 13, 2015 vs. Saints
Out-dueling a 355-yard performance by New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees, Palmer completed 19 of 32 passes for 307 yards and three touchdowns without taking a sack in Arizona’s 31-19, season-opening win.
This, coming in Palmer’s return from a torn ACL that ultimately foiled a 9-1 start for the Cardinals a season prior. Palmer’s passes went to John Brown, tight end Darren Fells and to rookie back David Johnson, who took a 55-yard reception to the house in his debut. That play sealed the win with 1:34 left.
119.0 – Nov. 17, 2013 vs. Jags
In the first nine games as a Cardinal, Palmer struggled with 12 touchdowns to 15 interceptions, recording at least a pick in every one of those outings. But in his last seven outings during his debut season in Bruce Arians’ offense, Palmer tuned up his decision-making, throwing 12 touchdowns to just seven picks — four came in one win over the Seattle Seahawks before he led them on a game-winning drive.
The breakthrough in that stretch to end 2013 came in a 27-14 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. Palmer threw two touchdowns to no picks while completing 30-of-42 passes for 419 yards. Ninety-one of those yards came on a slant that receiver Michael Floyd took to the house for a score.