Running back Stepfan Taylor runs for a touchdown during Sunday's 24-13 win in Oakland.
OAKLAND, Calif. – The silver and black clad Raiders fans didn't exactly welcome Stepfan Taylor back with open arms, but the Cardinals running back looked right at home in his return to the Bay Area.
Taylor, who set the all-time rushing yardage and touchdown records in his days starring at Stanford, had his heaviest usage of the season and responded on Sunday, scoring a pair of touchdowns in the 24-13 victory. Taylor finished with 12 rushes for 40 yards and a touchdown and added two catches for 19 yards and another score.
A smattering of applause came on Taylor's trips to the end zone, but he said he didn't know of any cheering section dedicated to him.
"If I did, I didn't see it," Taylor said with a laugh. "I saw a lot of the Black Hole over there."
Taylor tripled his season total in carries – from six to 18 – in part because of a rib injury to starting running back Andre Ellington. Taylor played the first six snaps of the third quarter because Ellington was late returning from the locker room at
While Taylor said he didn't know there would be an increased role for him in this game, he said he's always been prepared for it.
"I try to go to practice and make sure I'm getting better," Taylor said. "Just because I'm not taking a lot of the reps in past games I can't focus on that, like, 'I'm not getting reps.' I go out there and focus on every rep, every play in the playbook so when things like this happen I'm ready to play."
Taylor scored on a 2-yard pass in the first quarter, absorbing an attempted tackle and staying off the ground long enough to dive past the goal-line. He followed it up with a 4-yard rushing score on a sweep in the third quarter.
Ellington had every touch on the drive, but asked to come out because he wanted Taylor to have a shot at the touchdown.
"I felt like he earned it," Ellington said. "He earned it during the week. While I'm sitting there resting (a lingering foot injury in practice), he's out there working. My idea was to just get some fresh legs in there, and we got the touchdown."
PALMER THROWS FIRST PICK
The Cardinals were intercepted for the first time this year when an errant pass from quarterback Carson Palmer was pulled in by Raiders safety Charles Woodson. The team had gone 196 passes without a pick, the longest streak in the NFL.
Palmer said he wanted to make sure the pass wasn't batted at the line of scrimmage by linebacker Sio Moore and it ended
up going deeper than intended. Tight end John Carlson tipped it into the waiting hands of Woodson.
Woodson returned the ball 30 yards to the Cardinals' 13-yard-line but the defense forced a field goal to keep a 14-10 advantage.
"I put a little bit too much air on it and unfortunately put it too far behind and he tipped it," Palmer said. "Unfortunate. You put your defense in that situation, and you see how good your defense is. They showed up. Holding them to a field goal in that situation is huge."
It was the only turnover of the day for the Cardinals and just the fourth of the season. They didn't force any but are still plus-7 on the season in turnover differential.
"We want to be plus in that category," Palmer said.
SPREADING THE WEALTH
Palmer finished the game 22-of-31 for 253 yards and two touchdowns. He hit nine different receivers, with Ellington (six catches for 72 yards on nine targets) his go-to guy.
"As good as we were in the run game, I thought we were even better in the pass game," Palmer said.
Only Ellington had more than 47 receiving yards, but several different players came up big in different stretches.
Ted Ginn caught a 17-yard pass on 3rd-and-9, finding an open area when Palmer scrambled. John Brown had two catches for 41 yards, the second one a 22-yard gain on 3rd-and-8 to keep alive the team's final drive, which resulted in a field goal to push the lead to two possessions.
Michael Floyd had three catches for 47 yards, including a 33-yarder down the left sideline for a touchdown for an early 14-0 lead.
"Mike made a phenomenal play and ripped right through the guy," Palmer said. "The guy was upfield from him. I just wanted to give him a chance and Mike fought through and fought for the ball. He did it last week, too. He'll go up and make the play."