GLENDALE, Ariz. -- If “The Carson and Larry Show” were an actual TV program, it would be the highest rated show on the air.
But it would also be one of those shows in which the plot is the same every episode and only a few characters change. It would be good but almost predictable.
Sunday’s show at University of Phoenix Stadium wasn’t much different than the one in Week 2. Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer and wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald picked up where they left off in a 47-7 win over the San Francisco 49ers. The two combined for 134 yards and two touchdowns on nine completions to build on a 112-yard, three-touchdown performance in Week 2 and an 87-yard showing in Week 1.
Last week showed how much Fitzgerald missed Palmer, who was out 10 games last season because of knee and shoulder injuries.
This week showed what’s possible every week.
“Larry is special,” Palmer said. “He’s different than any other superstar I’ve been around. What he does for this team and what he does in the run game is unbelievable. He’s the best blocking receiver in the league, but you got to worry about him in so many other areas that you don’t think you have to worry about him blocking your receivers, coming down in motion and ending up on defensive ends here and there. I don’t need to say it, but he’s pretty good.”
Together, the duo has been great this season.
Fitzgerald’s 333 receiving yards account for 41.4 percent of Palmer’s passing yards through three games, and Fitzgerald’s five touchdowns are 55.5 percent of Palmer’s passing touchdowns.
Palmer doesn’t expect the production to stay at this level, but that's only because defenses will start double-teaming Fitzgerald.
“He can do that week in and week out,” Palmer said. “It’s not going to happen week in and week out, just because the more times he gets the ball, the more he gets a circle around him and is targeted defensively.”
This season has been an extension of Palmer and Fitzgerald's first two years together in Arizona. Palmer has completed 137 of 204 passes to Fitzgerald for 1,770 yards, 17 touchdowns and seven interceptions in that time.
Cardinals coach Bruce Arians has seen a few good quarterback-wide receiver combinations in his day, namely Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison, Ben Roethlisberger and Hines Ward, and Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown.
“These guys are really on it right now,” Arians said of Palmer and Fitzgerald.
The relationship between a quarterback and wide receiver has to be built on trust and repetition, Arians said. Fitzgerald worked to earn that trust the past two years, not just from Arians but also from Palmer. It shows on Sundays, but it’s built during the week.
“You see these guys at practice, [and] it’s like it’s a game,” said tight end Jermaine Gresham, who played with Palmer in 2010 in Cincinnati. “The guys are a true definition of a professional. They go out there every day, and it’s consistency, and those guys do it day in and day out.”
Left tackle Jared Veldheer, who played with Palmer in 2011 and 2012 in Oakland, then joined him in 2014 in Arizona, has watched Palmer’s connection with Fitzgerald grow into one of the most productive in the league over the past couple years.
“The more you play with people, the more you kind of mesh together,” Veldheer said. “Maybe it’s just hit a point where it’s really taken off.”