Bruce Arians was sure about one thing: The Cardinals are going to let it fly early on Sunday against the Panthers.
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Just a week ago, Arians noticed that when Palmer was picking the scripted plays — usually the first 10-15 plays a team runs before score and situation begin to dictate the calls — Palmer was opting for the most conservative calls in the book.
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“He picked a lot of shorter completions early instead of going for them like we normally do,” Arians said, via the team’s official site. “I think that was part of ‘I don’t want to screw this up.’
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“Now that we don’t have to worry about that anymore we can go back to being ourselves.”
Of the Cardinals’ 10 longest plays of the game, only two were in the first half — a pass deep down the right side to John Brown Jerseys for a gain of 19 in the second quarter, and a short pass to Brown that turned into a 15-yard gain, also in the second quarter. Both of those would be well beyond the script.
But stretching the ball vertically is a calling card in Arians’ offense, and it’s part of the reason why they’ve been so successful this season. Without putting the pressure on the top end of a defense, the rest of Arians’ first-half plan cannot work the way it’s supposed to.
Palmer’s reaction was typical of a quarterback making just his second postseason appearance, which eventually led to his first postseason win. The jitters were evident through a few missed opportunities and an uncharacteristic red zone interception.
Because he is Palmer, that all went away and he ended up having the wherewithal to complete a pass to Larry Fitzgerald Jerseys that resulted in one of the best moments in NFL playoff history. That fearless Palmer is the same one Arians hopes to see in the first quarter this Sunday.