ARI-CLE Grades: Palmer throws 4 TDs to lead comeback against Browns
Here are the top takeaways and highest graded players from the Cardinals’ 34-20 win over the Browns.
– This offense lives and dies by the deep ball and we saw that play out Sunday. The Cardinals offense looked like a completely different animal in the second half, mainly due to multiple big plays. QB Carson Palmer (+4.6) was 5 of 9 on passes targeted 20+ yards downfield for 185 yards. He made a couple of risky throws, but with the amount of downfield throws he hit, you can live with those mistakes.
– This is the Michael Floyd (+3.9) most people were expecting at the beginning of the season. The fourth-year receiver caught four balls for 106 yards on 32 routes including a 60-yard touchdown that torched CB Joe Haden. His most impressive play of the day though, a one-handed touchdown grab right before halftime, didn’t even count statistically.
– Where does Arizona keep finding these cornerbacks? We’ve known him as one of, if not the best special team performer in the NFL the past few years, but Justin Bethel (+1.5) shined Sunday in a starting role for the first time in his four-year career. With CB Jerraud Powers out, Bethel played all 66 snaps and allowed only four completions on 10 targets for 24 yards. He also collected two pass breakups in an extremely solid showing.
LT Jared Veldheer (+4.9)
QB Carson Palmer (+4.6)
WR Michael Floyd (+3.9)
DE Calais Campbell (+3.3)
TE Troy Niklas (+2.2)
– One has to wonder if QB Josh McCown (-2.7) should have been pulled from this game sooner, not only to protect their injured starter, but to give them the best chance of winning the game. I understand that football players regularly perform at less than 100 percent, but more often than not when guys are hurt their performance suffers significantly. McCown was nursing multiple injuries throughout the second half and he looked like a different quarterback. His interception at the start of the fourth quarter was as forced a throw as you’ll see in the NFL, with a corner having leverage and a safety over the top.
– Maybe it’s time for HC Mike Pettine to start making the lives for this Browns secondary a bit easier. They play man coverage among the most in the NFL, even though it’s getting clear that CB Joe Haden (-2.6) hasn’t been up to the task this season. Against the Cardinals he gave up five catches on five targets for 123 yards. CB Tramon Williams (-0.5) joined him in the 100-yard club, allowing 132 yards on 7 of 13 targets.
– First-round pick NT Danny Shelton (-0.7) continues to struggle with his consistency. He had plays where he controlled a block from the snap and blew it up (Q3, 13:50), but had equally as many where he lost leverage immediately and got bench-pressed (Q4 5:56). With his size and power, Shelton should be gaining control of far more blocks than he is at the moment. His two stops on the day were his first since week five.
CB K’Waun Williams (+2.8)
RB Duke Johnson (+1.9)
DE John Hughes (+1.5)
DE Desmond Bryant (+1.4)
FS Ibraheim Campbell (+1.4)