CHICAGO (AP) Carson Palmer is off to such a strong start it’s almost hard to believe he missed any time a year ago.
He’s just rolling along after tearing an ACL last season.
Palmer threw for four touchdowns to lead the Arizona Cardinals to a 48-23 victory over the Chicago Bears, who lost Jay Cutler to a pulled hamstring Sunday.
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”When we get into games we can have a good connection,” star receiver Larry Fitzgerald said.
They had a great connection against the Bears (0-2), with Fitzgerald catching three of Palmer’s TDs. That gave the quarterback seven in two games after returning last week against New Orleans from a torn anterior cruciate ligament that cut short his season after just six games a year ago.
Palmer was 17 of 24 with 185 yards to improve to 15-2 in his last 17 starts. Fitzgerald had 112 yards, and with those three TDs, he matched a career high he set against Philadelphia in the conference final seven years ago.
David Johnson returned the opening kickoff a club-record 108 yards and added a rushing TD, and Chris Johnson ran for 72 yards with Andre Ellington sidelined by a sprained right knee for the Cardinals (2-0).
And, coach Bruce Arians gained a measure of revenge after the Bears hired Marc Trestman over him in January 2013.
Here are some things we learned from this game:
CUTLER DOWN: The big question for the Bears is how much time Cutler will miss.
He walked to the locker room after he was stiff-armed trying to tackle Tony Jefferson on a 26-yard interception return for a touchdown late in the first half.
Cutler was not available for comment afterward, and Fox would not say if he expects his quarterback to return this season.
”It takes a while to run tests,” Fox said. ”Our medical people will inform me and then I will inform you.”
Cutler completed his first eight passes for 120 yards before getting picked off. He threw a 48-yard touchdown to Josh Bellamy. But the injury on Jefferson’s interception return was another big blow for a team that was already missing its top receiver with Alshon Jeffery out because of a hamstring problem.
JOHNSON DELIVERS: David Johnson continues to deliver big plays for Arizona.
He silenced the crowd when he caught the opening kickoff deep in the end zone, went through the middle and turned up the left side untouched for a 108-yard touchdown.
It was the longest kickoff return by a Cardinals player – and by a Bears opponent. He also ran for a 13-yard touchdown.
In the opener against New Orleans, he also had a 55-yard touchdown catch.
”It’s very deceiving it doesn’t look like he is moving as fast as he truly is,” Palmer said. ”He is such a long strider, such a powerful strider it almost looks effortless. There is so much power behind each step.”
PENALTIES: The Bears have given up 234 yards in penalties this season after they tied a franchise record with 170 in this game. Two long pass-interference calls against Kyle Fuller and Alan Ball led to touchdowns in the first half.
”I guess if the flags are coming out because we’re not finding the ball,” Ball said. ”We’ve got to find the ball. If they’re completing passes because we’re not we’ve got to find a way to get our hands up there a little bit different. We have to adjust.”
FITZGERALD NOT FINISHED: For all the talk that he lost a step, Fitzgerald was as productive as ever.
He had 112 yards, and with those three TDs, he matched a career high he set against Philadelphia in the conference final seven years ago. Fitzgerald also eclipsed last season’s total of two touchdown catches.
Not bad for a guy who turned 32 in August and last finished with 1,000 yards in 2011.
NO PRESSURE: The Bears gave Aaron Rodgers all the time he needed in a season-opening loss to Green Bay, and Palmer was not exactly on the run, either. Through two games, Chicago has a grand total of zero sacks.
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