There were plenty of moments for Carson Palmer as a Cardinal that didn’t include the Seahawks – his beautiful, twisty-turning pass to Larry Fitzgerald in overtime of the Packers game, the struggles in the NFC Championship game, the gut-wrenching non-contact ACL tear against the Rams, the amazing bomb to Smokey Brown to beat the Eagles.
But with Palmer, who will be inducted into the Cardinals’ Ring of Honor at halftime of Sunday’s game against the Seahawks, it feels like it’s the Seattle games that left the biggest imprints. To go into the team’s ROH against anyone else but the Seahawks would’ve felt odd.
Think about it. Palmer arrived in 2013. He played in a home Thursday night loss that seemed to crystallize the struggles Bruce Arians was having installing his new offense. By the time the Cards went to Seattle that year, they grinded out an emotional 17-10 win, and while Palmer threw four interceptions, it was his excellent TD bomb to Michael Floyd at the end of the game that provided the winning points.
(Larry Fitzgerald, a man who has won an NFC Championship and a few playoff games, said this week that 2013 win in Seattle is his greatest win in the NFL. That’s how much that game meant to this team. And it essentially kicked off the belief in that Arians era.)
Palmer didn’t play against Seattle in 2014 – he was injured both games, a microcosm of what could’ve been a great season after a 9-1 start. He threw for 363 yards in Seattle in 2015 during a “Sunday Night Football” win that underscored how the Cardinals had taken over the NFC West at that point. In 2016, he played in the most brutal game I can remember covering with the Cards, the 6-6 tie in which his greatest play was talking kicker Chandler Catanzaro off the ledge after Cat Man missed another crucial kick. He somehow led the Cards to a three-point win in Seattle later that year.
And that was it. He didn’t play against the Seahawks again in 2017 because of his broken arm.
While there were injuries, I’ve never covered a tougher player. There have been equals, but Palmer took a beating as a Cardinal, and he fought through it. The amount of work he put in at the end of 2014 and into 2015 to come back from the second ACL tear – to have an MVP-worthy season – will forever be stuck in my head.
-- Outside linebacker Cassius Marsh Sr. wasn’t happy with the Seahawks when he first arrived in Arizona before the season. The Seahawks cut Marsh, who had been first-string for them through the offseason and preseason, right before the regular season when they traded for Jadaveon Clowney. Marsh tried to be more low-key Friday as he talked about how much he was looking forward to Sunday.
“I know some things about the Seahawks, but to be honest with you I’m not going to say much,” Marsh said. “I’m going to hold my tongue. I have some not-so-great feelings about them, so I’m going to keep it to a minimum with what I say.”
“I don’t think it was a great thing with what they did,” Marsh added. “But it’s business.”
Marsh said he has worked on keeping his emotions in check for Sunday, although as a player who normally plays with a ton of emotion, it’ll be worth watching how it plays out.
-- While looking up info for my Kyler-Russell Wilson story this week, and then hearing about the trouble the Seahawks’ running game is having because top back Chris Carson has fumbled four times in three games, losing three, got me thinking about how different the NFL is from the 1970s and early 1980s.
Wilson mentioned Vikings QB Fran Tarkenton, a Hall of Famer, as a short QB who paved the way for his own play. In 1978, Tarkenton’s final season, he started all 16 games. He threw for 3,468 yards (a hefty amount at that time) and 25 touchdowns. He also threw an incredible 32 interceptions. Meanwhile, the Carson stuff reminded me of when Ken Whisenhunt was down on Tim Hightower, who had fumbled three times in two games. Walter Payton, Hall of Famer, lost 10 fumbles one year and 11 in another, and I remember thinking how would Payton be treated in this day and age?
-- Don’t forget the free Fantennial celebration Saturday at State Farm Stadium, which will include appearances from Hall of Famers Aeneas Williams and Roger Werhli and QnA with team alumni. It runs from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and all the details are right here.
-- The tight end thing, it’s a thing. NFL Network called the Seahawks’ Will Dissly the top tight end play in fantasy this week, because of the trouble the Cardinals have had against the position. Here’s the big problem, in my mind – the Seahawks have two receivers in Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf who can fly down the field and catch bombs. Dissly could be a problem, but getting beat often over the top would be worse.
-- When Bruce Arians first showed up, it was a big story when he moved Larry Fitzgerald inside. Even Fitz has said he didn’t love it. But Fitz learned to love it and he’s been really successful. Then Kliff Kingsbury arrived and Fitz has gotten more work down the field, and it’s been speculated that it has meant Fitz hasn’t been in the slot as much. Which couldn’t be further from the truth.
According to Pro Football Focus, Fitzgerald had never had more than 25.2 percent of his snaps in the slot before B.A. showed up. In the B.A. years, Fitz was in the slot anywhere between 48.3 (in 2013) to 63.3 (in 2016) percent of the time. Last season under Steve Wilks, Fitz’s slot time grew to 74.7 percent of his snaps. This season? Fitz is in the slot 94 percent of the time.
-- Speaking of Fitz, he needs four catches to tie and five to surpass Tony Gonzalez with the second-most receptions in NFL history. To do it against the Seahawks, with Palmer present, on the weekend the team is celebrating the NFL Centennial? Yes please.
See you Sunday.