SAN FRANCISCO -- After Carson Palmer threw his second interception of the first quarter on Sunday, a toss into a mob of 49ers defensive backs swarming Arizona wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, the Cardinals quarterback walked over to his offensive line and told them he made all of the necessary corrections.
He said he was good to go. Something clicked. After four games of throwing interceptions on fade routes and making head-scratching decisions, Palmer was suddenly looking like the quarterback the Cardinals had thought they signed.
On his next drive, Palmer made good on his proclamation. He threaded a pass to Fitzgerald, who took it 75 yards for a touchdown. It was the type of pass Palmer could have had picked off, just inches from a defender on either side of Fitzgerald.
That same offensive line allowed Palmer to get sacked for a safety early in the second quarter but the new Palmer wasn’t going away. He later hit Rob Housler for 12 yards, then took a shot downfield, hitting Brittan Golden in stride for a 53-yard gain.
“I think guys just started playing,” Arizona head coach Bruce Arians said. “He started playing.”
With Palmer playing better, the offense began to click. During Arizona’s first drive of the second half, the Cards found a balance, running four times and passing five during a 61-yard drive that Palmer capped with a 10-yard fade to Michael Floyd off his back foot, the same pass he’s had intercepted twice this season.
Left guard Daryn Colledge could sense Palmer was ready to “flip the switch” on Sunday. After the touchdown to Fitzgerald, Colledge said, “I think we were ready to get rolling.”
Palmer downplayed his sudden turnaround. He said Arizona stayed with the game plan and stuck with the running game, which opened up his passing opportunities.
Housler didn’t see a change in Palmer but rather an overall shift throughout the offense.
“It’s kinda an understanding that we need to click offensively and we can,” Housler said. “It’s a belief that we can get it done. Your belief is tested sometimes. We still have faith and confidence in our system. That’s all it is, just showing. We have a lot of ups and downs to overcome. I don’t think we let that bother us too much.”
Despite his ups and downs, Palmer enjoyed one of his best days as a Cardinal. It took him a season-high 41 attempts to throw for 298 yards -- his second most this season. And Palmer’s 25 completions were his second most this year.
Whatever clicked, the Cardinals just hope it’ll continue on Thursday against Seattle.
“I think he got a little bit more comfortable,” Fitzgerald said. “He got settled. Guys started making some plays for him.”