To find the last time Arizona Cardinals' quarterback Carson Palmer threw four interceptions in a regular season game, you would have to go all the way back to week 15 of the 2013 season when Palmer tossed four picks in a 17-10 win over the Seattle Seahawks.
A quarterback largely considered interception-prone throughout his career, Palmer's propensity to put balls in jeopardy came back to haunt him Sunday in Buffalo as he threw four second half interceptions in the Cardinals' 33-18 loss to the Bills.
After Sunday's game, Palmer said Buffalo wasn't doing anything differently defensively than what it had shown through the first two weeks of the season, but said the Bills mixed their coverages well.
"No, it looked like what they had been playing, they mixed things up the first couple of games and for the most part they stayed true to some of the things they had been doing the first two weeks of the season," Palmer said.
Ironically though, Palmer somewhat changed his tune when asked again about Buffalo's defensive looks, suggesting that the Bills' defense played very differently against the Cardinals than it had in week two against the Jets, primarily using coverages Arizona scouted in Buffalo's season-opening contest against Baltimore.
"They played the first two games very differently, they played this one very different than the first two. Definitely different than the second one, but a lot of the same coverages we saw when they were in Baltimore week one. Some of the same stuff they were doing last week and then some of the stuff that we expected to see that they just didn't do."
Regardless of what coverages Buffalo played in the second half of Sunday's game, Palmer never seemed to have a handle on the Bills' looks and was often out of sync with his receivers. After the game, Cardinals' head coach Bruce Arians said poor routes and bad protection were contributing factors to Arizona's offensive woes, and that the team didn't execute the way it had during the week at practice.
Arizona went three-and-out on five consecutive drives to start Sunday's game, and when tasked with the opportunity to cut Buffalo's 17-7 lead to a one score game at the start of the second half, Palmer threw two errant passes and the Cardinals once again were forced to punt after three plays.
"Sometimes you start fast and we'd been doing that, we've been good at coming out hot but for a number of reasons, we need to iron those reasons out, we need to identify them and come out hot."
Palmer's reference to coming out hot is regarding the Cardinals' offense a season ago, as Arizona has yet to score in the first quarter of a game this season. If not for a 17-play, 84-yard touchdown drive that spanned more than half of the second quarter, the Cardinals would not have picked up a single first down in the first half.
Early in the game, Arians worked down field shots into Arizona's play calls, and Palmer had no problem lofting passes for his receivers. However, Palmer's timing with his receivers was off throughout the first half, and Arizona ended up throwing into double coverage on far too many occasions.
"We tried a couple of them (down field passes), (Buffalo) did a really good job," Palmer said. "They just played really, really soft, they did a great job on 50-50 balls and they made plays on them and did a good job."
Ultimately, Palmer's 26-for-50 performance marred by four interceptions kept Arizona from mounting a serious comeback, as Buffalo led by two scores throughout the entirety of the second half.
When Arizona forced a safety and started with the ball in Buffalo territory with the chance to cut the Bills' lead to one score, Palmer lobbed an interception near the goal line that sunk the Cardinals' chances.
While Palmer hadn't thrown four interceptions in a regular season game since 2013, he did toss four picks against Carolina in the NFC Championship game which means Sunday's contest marked the second time he had done so in the last four Cardinals' games. With a critical matchup looming against a divisional foe, Los Angeles, Palmer knows he must cut down on putting balls in jeopardy this week.
"Well obviously, disappointed," Palmer said of Sunday's performance. "Disappointed in the way we played, disappointed in myself and the way I played. But there's a lot of football left, there's 13 games left, we have a big division game at our house next week so we need to find a way to improve and if there's one thing this team does, it's work hard."