Arians finds much to criticize in Cards win

The Arizona Cardinals are off to a 4-1 start, but coach Bruce Arians sees plenty of room to improve.

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Arizona coach Bruce Arians found much to criticize in the Cardinals' victory over Washington.

He said he counted 40 mental errors, 20 each on offense and defense. The team had 14 penalties in Sunday's 30-20 win.

Arians said the game was won "surprisingly" because of turnovers. The Redskins had all four in the fourth quarter. The Cardinals didn't have any in the game.

Arizona has only three turnovers — and zero interceptions — through five games.

Arians was critical of cornerback Patrick Peterson's performance. He said it was "not good for him."

Peterson was beaten by DeSean Jackson on a 64-yard touchdown pass.

Arians' criticism aside, Arizona improved to 4-1 and is alone atop the NFC West.

The victory over Washington wasn't assured until Rashad Johnson intercepted Kirk Cousins and returned it 28 yards for a touchdown with 18 seconds to play.

"Offensively, we had chances to put that thing away and couldn't get it done," Arians said. "We've got to find ways to finish things when we have them like that in those situations, when you have a team on the brink."

The story was Carson Palmer's return. He hadn't played in nearly five weeks and took snaps in only part of last Friday's practice. The decision to start him wasn't made until a couple of hours before kickoff.

Palmer threw 44 passes, completing 28 of them, for 250 yards and two touchdowns in his first game since he smashed a nerve in his throwing shoulder in Arizona's season-opening win over San Diego.

On Monday, Arians said that Palmer felt fine. The plan is for the quarterback to practice all week leading to next Sunday's game at Oakland.

Arians singled out tackle Bobby Massie, cornerback Jerraud Powers, Johnson and outside linebacker Alex Okafor for praise.

Massie, improved from last year, handled the Washington pass rush all day.

Powers, described by Arians as the team's defensive MVP thus far this season, had four tackles, an interception, forced fumble and a pass defensed. Johnson had two interceptions.

Okafor, starting in place of injured Matt Shaughnessy, sacked Washington's Kirk Cousins twice.

Defensive tackle Frostee Rucker injured his calf and left the game, but returned. Rucker may have to live with the injury the rest of the season, Arians said.

"It's going to be there all year and play through it and gut it out," the coach said. "It was a great performance by him coming back out and giving his presence because he's a great leader."

Rucker, who became a starter when Darnell Dockett went down with a season-ending knee injury, said "it's going to be tough" dealing with the injury.

"I'll stay here day and night, trying to get it right," he said. "There's not much you can do but treat it with these doctors. They do a good job and it's just on my body to respond. I shouldn't miss any time. I just want to make sure I cannot hurt us by being out there."

After Palmer's 24-yard touchdown pass to Larry Fitzgerald put Arizona up 14-10 with 31 seconds to go in the first half, the Redskins needed 29 seconds to move far enough downfield for a field goal.

Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles was livid about that at halftime.

"He had choice words that can't be mentioned now," Rucker said, "but I think he got the attention of all of us and woke us all up."

The players had never seen Bowles that upset.

"He gave a real speech and got us motivated. We didn't have a choice, but to play good in the second half," Powers said. "It the first time we saw that. I'd never seen him that angry or mad."

Arizona is plus-8 in turnovers, third-best in the NFL, one behind Green Bay and New England. The Cardinals' three turnovers are the third-fewest in the league, one more than San Diego and Cleveland.

The victory left the Cardinals 9-2 at home since Arians took the job last season, 3-0 this season.

Overall, they have won 11 of their past 14 games.


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