Carson Palmer showed Monday night he's far from the washed-out quarterback critics proclaimed him to be to open the season. The 34-year-old dropped dimes all over the field, when given time to throw.
The caveat was the Arizona Cardinals' downfall in a 28-17 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. Head coach Bruce Arians had a succinct response when asked where his team must improve: "Better blocking," he said, via the team's official website.
"We had guys open at times and just didn't get them because we couldn't throw the ball," Arians said.
Palmer finished the game 29-of-48 passing for 325 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. However, he was sacked six times by Cowboys defenders and hit a total of 11 times. Pro Football Focus charted Palmer under pressure on 23-of-55 dropbacks.
The Cardinals allowed Cowboys defensive lineman Demarcus Lawrence to destroy the game plan. The pass rusher stacked up three sacks, giving him the league lead with 6.5 on the season. Time and time again, Lawrence wrecked right tackle Jared Veldheer, who moved from left tackle to right tackle this season and has struggled.
"I need to block my guy," Veldheer said. "It doesn't matter where I am. My job is to block the guy."
A holding penalty on Veldheer early in the game wiped out a Cardinals TD that would have stretched the lead to 14-0. Instead, a missed field goal kept the Cowboys close and allowed Lawrence's presence to change the tilt of the field.