Wide receiver Andre Roberts hauls in a touchdown pass from Carson Palmer during Friday night's 17-0 win in Green Bay.
GREEN BAY, WI. – Bruce Arians promised his offense was going to take its shots, and if the Cardinals' coach is anything, it's brutally honest.
Five deep passes rained down from Cardinals quarterbacks in the first half Friday night at Lambeau Field. They didn't all connect, but both factored into touchdown drives as the Cards opened Arians' head coaching era with a 17-0 win over the Packers.
"In every offense there is always someone running downfield," quarterback Carson Palmer said. "We took advantage of those opportunities. We're not going to force it. Just because we say we're going to do it doesn't mean we always will. But if the opportunities are there, we are going to try to take advantage."
Palmer's first shot was incomplete to wide receiver Andre Roberts – Roberts was open – and
another incompletion was overshadowed because Michael Floyd was called for offensive pass interference. But Palmer connected with Roberts for a nice 38-yard touchdown bomb, and later, Drew Stanton hit Charles Hawkins for a 36-yard completion.
A second-half launch by third-string QB Ryan Lindley drew a pass interference penalty too, leading to the Cards' final field goal.
That doesn't even include Palmer passes of 18 yards to Floyd and 17 yards to Larry Fitzgerald, chunk plays that Arians loves so much.
"The way they were playing us, we wanted to see who the playmakers are," Arians said.
The pass protection was good from both the first- and second-string lines. Meanwhile Palmer (4-for-6, 77 yards, one touchdown) and Stanton (8-for-14, 107 yards, one touchdown) finished with a combined quarterback rating of 126.8 and left the team with a feeling much different than the quarterback play of recent preseason vintage.
Palmer breeds confidence, defensive end Calais Campbell said, but "I think there is a confidence around the whole team now. I think we all really believe if we buy into what coach is preaching we can really be a good team."
The defense came up with a goal line stand against the Packers' first-unit offense, Patrick Peterson made an interception, newcomer pass rusher John Abraham had a sack to force a fumble on the play and the team pitched a shutout. Preseason or not, that was also a nice start for new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles.
"Whether it's Pop Warner, high school, college, a shutout is a shutout," Arians said.
The Cardinals also made it through a preseason game with just two running backs, after Rashard Mendenhall and Andre Ellington did play. Stepfan Taylor (20 carries) and Alfonso Smith (12) handled the load in a running game that still needs improvement.
But that's something both Arians and Palmer were willing to acknowledge. Arians lamented all the points the Cards left on the field – Jay Feely missed a 53-yard field goal and Will Batson missed field goals of 31- and 42-yards – and Palmer wasn't proclaiming greatness either.
"We've got a long way to go," Palmer said. "You want to be perfect. When you only get so many opportunities, when you don't get the second quarter, third quarter, fourth quarter, halftime adjustments, you only get 10, 12 plays, you want every one to be perfect. It's not only going to be that way. It was just good to be back and see some of the things we've been working on come to fruition."
Arians smiled when he was asked if there were enough errors to give him something to yell at the team about.
"I've already started," Arians said. "There was enough good to be happy about but there was more than enough bad to correct."
Correcting problems in a win, after a night in which the passing offense clicked better than any time in the post-Kurt Warner era, is worth it though. Even if it was just the first preseason game.
"We want to throw the ball down the field, make those explosive plays," Roberts said. "And we want to instill the confidence in Carson to make those throws."