If you read this column regularly, you’re probably sick and tired of seeing Arizona Cardinals QB Carson Palmer’s name here, but he’s deserved the accolades each and every week.
Thursday night against the Minnesota Vikings, Palmer throw for 310 yards and two touchdowns with a QB Rating of 117.6. Palmer has already surpassed 4,000 yards passing on the season and his name is surfacing with the likes of Tom Brady and Cam Newton for league MVP honors.
There was some concern circulating in the desert following injuries to Chris Johnson and Andre Ellington but rookie David Johnson has quickly silenced the questions marks surrounding the Arizona running game.
Johnson accumulated 123 total yards against the Minnesota Vikings and seems to be getting better with each and every week. While most rookie running backs hit a wall sometime during the second half of the season, Johnson’s workload was limited early on and he shows no signs of slowing down soon.
The Cardinals have three standout receivers in Larry Fitzgerald, John Brown and Michael Floyd, but it was Floyd who stepped up big on Thursday night. The three wideouts have taken turns leading the team on a weekly basis and it was Floyd against the Vikings.
Floyd caught five passes for 102 yards with a touchdown against Minnesota and the emergence of all three receivers this year has made it extremely difficult for opposing defenses to single out a receiver to stop.
1 and 1
Similar to the contributions for Arizona at wide receiver, it’s seemingly a different defensive player each week that steps up to help the team prevail in the end.
Thursday night it was DE Dwight Freeney who salted the game away. Freeney strip sacked QB Teddy Bridgewater late in contest which allowed the Cardinals offense to run out the clock and win the game. While he totaled only one sack and one forced fumble, it ended up winning the game for Arizona.
In a tightly contested 23-20 win, the difference in Thursday’s game was clearly the turnover battle. The Cardinals forced three Minnesota turnovers while committing zero.
In addition to the fumble caused by Freeney, Arizona forced two additional turnovers thanks to fumbles by Vikings RB Adrian Peterson and WR Jarius Wright. Forcing turnovers has become the normal for Arizona and it certainly made a major impact against Minnesota.