In last week's column, I wrote about one of the greatest catches in Larry Fitzgerald's historic career, after his grab against the Cowboys on "Monday Night Football," a feat he might've topped with his game-winning touchdown against the 49ers.
The pass to Larry by Carson Palmer was just as good, if not better.
That's true especially when you consider the number of hits Palmer took in that game, and this season, for that matter. It's amazing that despite the number of times he has hit the ground, Palmer doesn't stare at the rush. Knowing he is not the most mobile of quarterbacks, Palmer managers to stand tall in the pocket and make the tough throws in key moments.
In 2017, Palmer has been sacked a league-high 17 times, and endured 43 quarterback hits. While the number of shots delivered certainly take a physical toll, it's hard to tell how much they faze Palmer mentally. That's the one thing about Palmer that people didn't talk about when he arrived in Arizona five years ago. Of all the great football traits Palmer possesses, from prototypical quarterback size to
arm strength, it's his intangibles that I think should ultimately define his career. Palmer's mental and physical toughness are his greatest strengths. Carson has that typical soft-spoken Southern California demeanor on the outside, but he's a fierce competitor on the inside. We in the media may not see that fire and brimstone, but those who play alongside him have seen it.
Palmer may not have the demonstrative public arguments with coaches like Kurt Warner used to have with Todd Haley, but Palmer isn't afraid to speak his mind behind the scenes. Another standout attribute is his short memory, which is part of mental toughness. Whether it's throwing an interception in the end zone on the first drive of last week's game, or getting battered by defensive lineman for an entire game, neither of those things ultimately bother Palmer.
Untimely interceptions have killed the confidence of many young quarterbacks. Frequent sacks have ended the careers of other QBs. Palmer has been able to forget about, and overcome both, to have one of the most productive careers in NFL history. On Sunday against the 49ers, Palmer tied legendary quarterback Johnny Unitas for No. 13 on the all-time list for passing touchdowns with 290. No. 291 would tie him with Warren Moon. If he throws 11 more, which is very likely this season, he will surpass John Elway.
That is deserving of high praise. But what we can't see -- what's inside Palmer -- is what makes him the player he is.