After dominant win, Cardinals face quick turnaround
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — The Arizona Cardinals have no time to savor their latest victory, a dominant one in St. Louis.
The team went back to work Monday to begin preparation for Thursday night’s game against the Minnesota Vikings.
Thursday night games are not among Cardinals coach Bruce Arians’ favorite things.
“I’m tired of (complaining) about them because they’re not going away,” he said before Monday’s practice, “but they’re extremely hard on these guys’ bodies.”
Arians said all the practices will be walk-throughs, although the players “might break a sweat Wednesday.”
“The grind of starting a game plan this soon after a game is really tough on the players sometimes,” he said, “so it’s just mentally and physically a grind right now for the next 48 hours.”
Quarterback Carson Palmer said the bright side is that a long weekend off will follow the Thursday night encounter.
“Complaining about them doesn’t get you anywhere,” he said. “You’ve got to get as much film in as you can, get your body ready, get out there and be ready to perform.”
At least the Cardinals are playing at home.
“It’s so much easier to be at home, I will admit, on Thursday because you can at least have another walk-through on Wednesday at a longer pace,” Arians said, “where instead, you’d have to get on a plane and travel again. If you’re swollen from the game, you’re going to get back on the plane and swell some more, so it’s very, very had on the road team.”
The coach said he was “very surprised” by the Vikings’ 38-7 loss at home to Seattle on Sunday.
“But Seattle’s playing extremely well right now, especially offensively,” Arians said. “We know what Seattle is capable of. I think they might have caught them by surprise.”
After Sunday’s 27-3 victory over the Rams, Arians said, he “basically gave everybody a game ball” for sweeping all three NFC West foes on the road.
“Huge,” Palmer said of the accomplishment. “Go to Seattle, San Fran is not easy to play at. St. Louis is just an awkward, weird place to play. ... It’s a third full. Probably a quarter of the fans are Cardinals fans. The lights are weird. It’s just a weird, weird, eerie feeling for an NFL game.”
The conditions didn’t seem to bother Palmer and the rest of the Arizona offense.
Palmer completed 26 of 40 passes for 356 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. In all, Arizona accumulated a season-high 524 yards to the Rams’ 212. The Cardinals had 29 first downs to St. Louis’ nine.
Palmer said the Cardinals aren’t satisfied with the offensive show. Their coach won’t let them be.
“With every play that doesn’t score or doesn’t go for four-plus yards in the run game, we’re harped on,” Palmer said. “We’re held to a very high standard. We’re coached extremely hard and we’re still shooting for a perfect game. We’re still shooting for one where we don’t walk out and go, ‘Man, I wish this didn’t happen’ or ‘I wish I wouldn’t have done that.’ That hasn’t happened yet. Until that happens, I don’t think we’ll be satisfied.”
The Cardinals have won six in a row and, at 10-2, maintain a three-game lead over the Seahawks in the NFC West. With the Vikings’ loss, Arizona has a two-game lead for the NFC’s No. 2 seed, which would earn a first-round playoff bye. Arizona is two games behind unbeaten Carolina for the No. 1 seed.
Notes: The NFL “flexed” Arizona’s Dec. 20 game at Philadelphia to Sunday night, the Cardinals’ fifth prime-time game this season and fourth in the last six games. ... Palmer wore Stepfan Taylor’s No. 33 jersey, a tight fit, because he lost a bet on the Pac-12 championship game when Palmer’s USC team lost to Taylor’s Stanford squad. ... The Cardinals improved to 23-4 in Palmer’s last 27 starts. ... Arizona still leads the NFL in total yards (419.5) and points (382). ... Kerwynn Williams was the 16th Arizona player to score a touchdown this season.
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