- Josh Weinfuss, ESPN Staff Writer
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A weekly analysis of the Arizona Cardinals' quarterback play.
Rewind: For about the opening nine minutes Sunday, Carson Palmer looked like nothing had changed from prior weeks. He threw two interceptions before the clock ticked past six minutes, and the offense was again stagnant. But then, whether it was luck or skill, most likely a combination of both, Palmer threaded a pass to receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who took it 75 yards for a touchdown. Palmer came to life. He looked like a different quarterback the final 50 minutes despite the loss. It could be a one-hit wonder. No one will know if Palmer turned the corner in San Francisco until Thursday night against the Seahawks.
I went low and was OK with my prediction. I said Palmer would throw for 165 yards and a touchdown. He tossed for 298 and two scores while throwing 41 times.
Fast-forward: In the Seahawks, Palmer will go up against the toughest secondary he's faced this season. Seattle is allowing just 188 passing yards a game, second best in the NFL, and its 5.77 passing yards per play is fourth best. Palmer won’t be able to take chances like he did against San Francisco, especially against a secondary that’s tall. Corners Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner are 6-foot-3 and 6-4, respectively. Strong safety Kam Chancellor is 6-3, while free safety Earl Thomas is 5-10. All four players have a wing span of 6-2 or wider.
Not under duress: Besides making better decisions, one key to Palmer’s success is not getting pressured. He was 21-for-25 passing for 262 yards and a touchdown when he had time to throw, according to Pro Football Focus. The offensive line held up, not allowing a pressure on 25 of 42 dropbacks. That will be a determining factor Thursday night as the Seahawks come in with a tough defensive line that’s getting stronger.
Prediction: I don’t think Palmer has completely outrun the shadows of the proverbial corner. He’ll still make bad decisions, but finding a rhythm is all about confidence and Palmer showed some of his confidence returned Sunday. I’ll say 225 yards and two TDs.