Cardinals’ Arians: Safe approach not an option in NFC title game

Cardinals coach Bruce Arians vowed not to be conservative in Sunday's title game at Carolina.
Matt Kartozian/Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians has developed a reputation as one of the league’s most aggressive play-callers.

The Cardinals strayed from that approach in Saturday’s overtime victory over the Green Bay Packers, but Arians said he and quarterback Carson Palmer learned from it and vowed that won’t happen again for Sunday’s NFC title game against the top-seeded Carolina Panthers.

“Not to be conservative in the first half when you’re picking your plays. And we talked about it," Arians told reporters Monday. "This was a game where (Palmer) picked a lot of shorter completions early instead of going for ’em like we normally do. And I think that was part of, ‘I don’t want to screw this up.’ "

Much had been made of Palmer having never won a playoff game, even though Saturday night was only his third postseason start. Arians said he was willing to give Palmer some leeway on more conservative calls against Green Bay – but that won’t be the case going forward.

“Now that we don’t have to worry about doing that anymore, we can go back to being ourselves," Arians said. "I think that all that’s behind him. The only time I saw it last week was when we were picking plays.”

Arians said Arizona came out of Saturday’s came relatively injury-free and are bracing for a "great challenge" against the Panthers, who have won 12 in a row (playoffs included) at home.