Not the kind of rehearsal the Arizona Cardinals wanted to see as Carson Palmer and the offense made too many mistakes in a 19-13 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, who still have an excellent defense, which will once again make up for the mediocrity of Andy Dalton.
Carson Palmer, playing against his former team, was terrible. He completed just 7-of-19 passes and threw an interception right into the hands of Terrence Newman. It might have been the fault of Larry Fitzgerald, who probably should have done a little bit better when it came to the route he was running, but Palmer had so many mistakes and overthrows during the game than it doesn’t really matter if the interceptions are regarded as his fault as well.
Not that the offense on the part of the Bengals did so well. Dalton might be their expensive franchise quarterback, but everyone knows that the success of the Bengals in recent years is mostly due to their defense, not the brilliance of their quarterback. Dalton didn’t make mistakes, or at least costly ones. He finished with 13-of-21 for 157 yards, and Jason Campbell who came on for him didn’t do much better, completing 7-of-14.
So how did the points come? Newman returning that interception for a touchdown in the first quarter, Mike Nugent hitting field goals and then Quinn Sharp hitting two field goals of his own. The Bengals got a good performance out of Cedric Peerman and Jeremy Hill on the ground, but that was it, more or less. A.J. Green caught five passes for 53 yards, but this was another dray and grey appearance from the team’s lackluster offense.
The Cardinals were pleased with Drew Stanton, throwing a touchdown pass to John Brown. Larry Fitzgerald did make a few big catches, finishing with 71 yards on 3 receptions. If his connection with Carson Palmer is improved, there’s a good enough defense for the Cardinals to fall back on, but the situation of the running game is worrying as well. The Cardinals have a very good defensive unit which almost got them to the playoffs last season.
The question is, which is similar to the one Bengals fans must be asking themselves, about the offense. Will the Cardinals be able to get enough out Palmer to generate some running game? It’ll probably be more about Palmer not making mistakes than the other way around. The Bengals aren’t worried about their ground game or Dalton falling apart, but they do expect him to start playing a bit more like a franchise quarterback, which doesn’t always show in his performances, even in the regular season.