Cardinals go error-free in 27-14 win over Jaguars

Carson Palmer completed six passes to six receivers on the

Arizona Cardinals’ opening drive that led to a touchdown. Three

straight completions went for at least 20 yards on another drive. A

simple slant turned into a 91-yard, catch-and-run touchdown.

It was like that all game. Best of all, the nine players who

caught Palmer’s passes Sunday all played for his team.

For a team plagued by turnovers this year, including 15

interceptions, Palmer delivered a beauty Sunday in a 27-14 victory

over the Jacksonville Jaguars. He was 30 of 42 for 419 yards and

two touchdowns, and he did not throw an interception for the first

time this year.

”Carson played by far his best game,” Arizona coach Bruce

Arians said.

His one big mistake? Throwing a ball up for grabs late in the

third quarter that linebacker Russell Allen easily grabbed for an

interception. Just his luck, Arians had called a timeout and no one

saw the official running from the sideline to stop the play.

The Cardinals (6-4) couldn’t afford to lose this game as they

try to stay in the playoff mix. Palmer’s flawless play, and a

defense that stiffened after surrendering two quick touchdowns,

made sure they didn’t.

”We have talked about how the playoffs have already started.

You lose, you’re out,” Arians said. ”We’re a game behind teams,

so we have to keep winning. We have to take a playoff attitude

every week, that this game is a playoff game and we have to win to

catch up. The guys have done it.”

Arizona won its third straight, and it won twice in Florida in

the same season for the first time in franchise history. The

Cardinals had a 13-10 win over Tampa Bay in late September. This

one was easier, thanks to the strong play of Palmer, a career game

for Michael Floyd and a defense that allowed only 57 yards in the

second half.

Floyd, listed as questionable because of a shoulder injury, had

six catches for a career-best 193 yards, including a 91-yard score

that made the Jaguars’ secondary look silly. On third-and-10 from

the 9, Floyd beat Will Blackmon on a slant. He shook off tackles by

Allen and safety Winston Guy. When Blackmon caught up to him, the

cornerback’s hands slid off his shoulder pads, he rolled into

cornerback Alan Ball, and Floyd was on his way.

”The safety bit down on the play-action and Carson made a heck

of a throw,” Floyd said. ”I made a couple of guys miss and we

scored a touchdown. You give me a little bit of a space and I just

try to break tackles. With my big frame, I should be able to make

catches that not all guys can.”

The Jaguars (1-9) at least scored a touchdown at home for the

first time this year.

On fourth-and-2 from the 38 on their opening drive, Chad Henne

found tight end Danny Noble all alone behind the defense for an

easy catch, and he rumbled 50 yards to the end zone with his first

NFL reception.

”There were many situations where I felt like we were bold, and

I told our team that we need to take that personality on,” Jaguars

coach Gus Bradley said.

Jacksonville scored another touchdown after a 59-yard kickoff

return by Jordan Todman and a pair of Arizona mistakes – none

bigger than Yeremiah Bell getting called for unsportsmanlike

conduct after Henne’s pass on third-and-goal from the 3 was

incomplete. Maurice Jones-Drew scored from the 1 for a 14-7

lead.

But that was it for the Jaguars, who returned to their inept

ways one week after getting their first win at Tennessee.

Palmer was rarely under pressure and moved the ball at will,

with six passes that went for at least 20 yards. His other TD was a

14-yard strike to Larry Fitzgerald that tied the game at 7 in the

first quarter.

”I had a really nice time in the pocket. I had a clean pocket

for the most part and was able to step into a lot of throws,”

Palmer said. ”Guys did a nice job of finding the voids in their

zone. I thought guys came with the right attitude. It wasn’t a

letdown game for us. It was a must-win, and we did what it

took.”

Rashard Mendenhall scored on a 5-yard run late in the second

quarter to tie the game at 14. Otherwise, the running game didn’t

exist for either team. The Cardinals came into the game with the

third-ranked run defense. It held the Jaguars to 32 yards. The

Cardinals had 416 yards, only 14 on the ground.

Jones-Drew finished with 23 yards on 14 carries.

”They’re a great defense. We knew that going in,” Jones-Drew

said. ”They load the box and wanted to make sure that we couldn’t

run the ball.”

Henne rarely threw downfield, settling for bubble screens that

didn’t get the Jaguars very far. When he finally went vertical, he

threw a pair of interceptions late in the game that sealed it for

Arizona. Henne was 27 of 42 for 255 yards.

Palmer was sacked three times, but for the most part, he had

ample time to show. The Jaguars’ best player was punter Bryan

Anger, who constantly pinned the Cardinals deep in a spot they

couldn’t afford any mistakes. They didn’t make any.

After spotting Jacksonville two scores, the defense took it from

there. The Jaguars only once got beyond the Cardinals’ 40-yard line

the rest of the way, and that was late in the game when it was too

late.

”Defensively, we came out in the second half like we have all

year and shut them down,” Arians said.

AP NFL website: -www.pro32.ap.org