GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) - For nearly five weeks, Carson Palmer couldn’t throw the ball.
That “dead” nerve in his shoulder finally came alive late in the week, and with almost no practice he threw two touchdown passes - one to Michael Floyd, the other to Larry Fitzgerald - to lead the Arizona Cardinals past the Washington Redskins 30-20 on Sunday.
“I’m not going to say I wasn’t nervous or wasn’t a little on edge,” Palmer said, “just going into a game and really only have a quarter or maybe a half of a practice over the last five weeks.”
That bit of practice came last Friday, and Palmer knew he was close to coming back.
“You could see it in his eyes,” Fitzgerald said.
Coach Bruce Arians said Palmer “showed some rust, but he came in and did a heck of a job for us.”
With the victory and Seattle’s loss to Dallas, Arizona (4-1) is alone atop the NFC West.
The Redskins (1-5) committed four fourth-quarter turnovers, losing their fourth straight and 13th in the last 14 games.
“I told our team this game is not that hard to figure out,” Washington coach Jay Gruden said. “The team that makes plays usually wins. The team that doesn’t turn the ball over usually wins. We are not doing anything. It is a broken record every time I stand up here.”
Fitzgerald caught six passes for a season-high 98 yards and his first touchdown of the year for the Cardinals, who bounced back from a 41-20 drubbing at Denver.
Kirk Cousins was 24 of 38 for 354 yards, including a 64-yard touchdown pass to DeSean Jackson, but threw three fourth-quarter interceptions for the Redskins.
“The turnovers were costly,” Cousins said. “They just didn’t give us a chance to stay on the field.”
Palmer had not played since damaging a nerve in his throwing shoulder in the season-opening win over San Diego. He returned to Denver after Friday’s practice for a second treatment session, and was not announced as the starter Sunday until just before kickoff.
Palmer was 28 of 44 for 250 yards with no interceptions. The Cardinals have not thrown an INT this season.
Trailing 23-13, Washington needed just 86 seconds to go 64 yards, scoring on a five-yard TD catch by Pierre Garcon with 2:16 to play. But the onside kick was recovered by Arizona’s Sam Acho.
The Redskins had one more chance, getting the ball back at their 14-yard line with 29 seconds to go. On the next play, Cousins threw the ball right to Arizona’s Rashad Johnson, who made his second interception of the day and returned it 28 yards for a touchdown with 18 seconds left.
A 36-yard pass interference penalty on Washington rookie cornerback Bashaud Breeland was the big play in an eight-play, 85-yard touchdown drive that ended when Palmer threw short to Fitzgerald, who dragged a would-be tackler the final five yards on a 24-yard touchdown reception to put the Cardinals up 14-7 with 31 seconds left in the first half.
It was the most Fitzgerald had been featured all season. He entered the game with only 13 catches.
“Throughout the course of the week I definitely was much more heavily involved in the game plan. I knew I would get my opportunities,” Fitzgerald said.
The TD catch was the 88th of his career, moving him into 12th on the all-time list.
But a 33-yard pass-and-run play from Cousins to Roy Helu Jr. helped the Redskins go 55 yards in 29 seconds. Kai Forbath’s 43-yard field goal with 2 seconds left sliced the Arizona lead to 14-13 at halftime.
Jackson’s first of two big gains came when he beat Patrick Peterson for a 64-yard touchdown on the second play of the second quarter.
On Washington’s next possession, the Redskins converted on a fourth-and-inches play from their own 47, then Cousins threw short to Jackson, who evaded tacklers for 42 yards and probably would have scored a touchdown had he not banged into teammate Chris Chester. Arizona’s defense held and Forbath’s 28-yard field goal put Washington up 10-7.
NOTES: Outgoing Navajo Nation president Ben Shelly, wearing a Redskins hat, sat for part of the game with Washington owner Daniel Snyder. … Redskins starting CB David Amerson left in the first half with a concussion. … Arizona was penalized a season-high 14 times for 108 yards. … Arizona rookie kicker Chandler Catanzaro is 14 for 14 on field goals. … Washington’s Brian Orakpo dropped a sure interception early in fourth quarter. … Arizona was without DT Calais Campbell, who injured his knee on a chop block by Denver’s Julius Thomas. … Arizona’s Alex Okafor, starting after last week’s injury to Matt Shaughnessy, had two sacks.
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