Extra Points: ‘Special’ Cardinals move on without Palmer

(SportsNetwork.com) – There’s adversity and then there is piling on.

The Arizona Cardinals have been football’s best team over their first nine
games of the season despite quite a few hurdles. Bruce Arians’ club lost star
linebacker Daryl Washington to a yearlong suspension before things even got
underway and barely flinched when impact defensive linemen Darnell Dockett and
John Abraham went down with season-ending injuries.

The Cards even persevered when starting quarterback Carson Palmer was
sidelined with a nerve issue in his throwing shoulder, winning two of three
under veteran backup Drew Stanton.

When Palmer’s pesky nerve “woke up,” according to muscle specialist Greg
Roskopf, Arizona finally had the feel of a team that overcame the worst of its
curve balls and one on its way to being a legitimate contender to be the
first ever to play in a Super Bowl on its home field, University of Phoenix

That scenario may have evaporated on that very field Sunday, however, as the
34-year-old Palmer, who signed a big-money extension just two days prior, went
down with a season-ending ACL injury.

“It’s hard,” Arians admitted Monday. “I knew walking out on the field what I
was going to find. You’re pulling for a guy because he’s put so much into it,
to get into the playoffs and win some games and maybe go all the way, because
you know what it means to him at this point of his career.”

The Cardinals didn’t flinch without their leader, rallying to beat the Rams
31-14 thanks to three fourth-quarter touchdowns, including two from the

Stanton threw a touchdown to rookie wide receiver John Brown to give the
Cardinals the lead before the D sealed it with a pick-six by Patrick Peterson
and a fumble recovery returned for a score by fellow cornerback Antonio

The triumph improved Arizona’s record to 8-1, its best start since the team
called Chicago home in 1948, and the first time the Cardinals have owned the
best record in the NFL after nine games since 1966 when St. Louis was the
franchise’s base.

“It’s obviously not ideal and not something anybody wants to go through,
especially with all the positive and the good going on,” Palmer said on

Palmer was injured trying to climb the pocket as Rams safety Mark
Barron blew by, barely grabbing the jersey of the QB as he passed. Palmer
heard a pop and crumbled to the turf.

“It’s not easy,” Palmer said. “Not going to lie, I cried like a baby last
night. I’m not an emotional guy. I don’t cry. The last time I cried like that
was when I lost my friend and (Bengals) teammate Chris Henry in 2009.”

Palmer does understand what it takes to come back from this. He tore his left
ACL during a January 2006 playoff loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers while with
the Cincinnati Bengals.

“A bump in the road for me, but I’ve been through this before and I’ve had
something worse actually before. I’m going to attack this thing. I’m going to
grind and be back and hopefully be back here and be ready to roll by OTA

Next year’s OTAs isn’t what this team is about, though, and Arians tried to
put on the best face possible, pointing to Stanton’s prior success this

“As far as our football team, everybody in the locker room including myself
has all the confidence in Drew,” Arians said. “You all should too by now.”

Perhaps we should and it’s certainly becoming dangerous to doubt Arians and
his ability to roll with the punches.

Reality, though, says Stanton is an eight-year journeyman with four NFL stops
and seven actual starts. And that doesn’t sound like the resume of a Super
Bowl quarterback.

“This team is special and we’ll miss (Palmer) on the field, but his leadership
will still be there,” the coach said.

Arians was even more definitive when speaking to The MMQB.

“We can win the Super Bowl with Drew Stanton,” he claimed. “There is no doubt
in my mind.”