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Run game key to settling down Carson Palmer

The Cardinals' run game helped pace QB Carson Palmer in the first half. AP Photo/Bob Leverone

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- With all the talk last week about the Arizona Cardinals needing to start more aggressive after a tentative start in their NFC divisional win, it was a ground attack that got Arizona on the board in the NFC Championship Game on Sunday.

And it may have just settled down quarterback Carson Palmer, despite throwing a late-half interception and the Cardinals losing three fumbles.

Down 17-0, the Cardinals methodically moved the ball during a 10-play, 79-yard drive with six runs, all by running back David Johnson. It was capped by Johnson's 1-yard run to give the Cardinals their first points of the game.

The running game was set up by a short, yet effective, passing sequence to two rookies. After a six-yard loss by Johnson on the opening play of the drive, Palmer went to Johnson for a 5-yard gain followed by a 15-yard pass to J.J. Nelson. Then Johnson had 17 yards on the next three runs, capped off by three yards on the final two plays of the drive -- which included the touchdown.