It was a combination of little things between Arizona Cardinals wide receiver John Brown and quarterback Carson Palmer that resulted in Brown catching a 18-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter of Sunday night’s 34-31 win over the Cincinnati Bengals.
The little things that a majority of fans watching on TV probably didn’t catch. It was little things like a simple eye movement by Palmer to Bengals cornerback Darqueze Dennard, and the presence of mind of Brown to see Dennard cheating one way or the other and taking advantage of it.
“Looking at the beginning of that play, I saw the safety cheat over to my side and when the ball was snapped Carson gave the safety a look to the other side as I was running my route,” Brown said on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM’s Off The Edge with B-Train. “I gave him a double move post. I faked him and faded back out. When I fade out, he jumped out and that gave me the separation and Carson made a great throw. He put his eyes right on the safety and took the safety right where he needed to go and it was a perfect play.”
The resulting touchdown catch gave the Cardinals their first lead of the night, 21-14, with 4:45 left in the quarter. Brown’s catch was followed a few minutes later by a 16-yard strike from Palmer to David Johnson, part of three touchdowns scored in the third quarter to give the Cards a 28-14 lead heading into the fourth.
It was a far cry from how the game started in which Palmer threw two interceptions, with the second one leading to a Bengals touchdown.
However, despite the slow start, Brown said the team never lost confidence in Palmer and there was no reason to panic.
“He wanted to put (the Bengals) away early. He came cussing in the huddle and said, ‘I messed up those last two drives. Alright I’m ready, let’s get on point.’ From there we just went rolling. We knew what we had to do and we believed in him.”
That calmness in the huddle and the confidence and trust that is instilled upon Palmer by his teammates is one of the reasons why he is constantly mentioned in the league MVP conversation.
All those attributes were on display with 1:03 left to play and the game tied at 31. There was all the confidence in the world that Palmer would have no problem leading a drive to set up Chandler Catanzaro’s 32-yard field goal.
“He has the trust in everyone in that huddle to make that play and be at the right spot at the right time,” Brown said. “Carson does a great job with the accuracy and throwing the ball right, and the offensive line is blocking for him. He’s not in the back field panicking, he’s just relaxing and calm.”