- Associated Press - Monday, September 22, 2014

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) - Three times already this season, the Arizona Cardinals have fallen behind only to rally to victory in the second half.

The latest comeback came in Sunday’s 23-14 win over San Francisco, a team Arizona had beaten once in its last 10 tries.

Heading into a bye week, coach Bruce Arians said that show of resiliency stands out above everything else.

“The biggest thing is they respect the process,” he said Monday. “They come to work every day. They focus on that day and we get better each day and we don’t look to the future. We have to guard against that as we get better and people start patting you on the back.”

The Cardinals have outscored their opponents 30-0 in the fourth quarter.

Arizona really isn’t sneaking up on anybody. Dating to last season, the Cardinals have won 10 of their last 12, tied with Carolina and Philadelphia for the NFL’s best record in that span. They are the only team in the past two seasons to win at Seattle.

But a series of misfortunes seemed to make a fast start this year unlikely.

First, they lost defensive tackle Darnell Dockett to a season-ending knee injury in training camp, then outside linebacker John Abraham showed up late for camp after attending alcohol rehab. Abraham went down with a concussion in the season opener, one so severe that he is out for the season.

Backup running back Jonathan Dwyer was arrested on domestic violence charges and is on a non-football illness list, meaning he’s out for the season.

And quarterback Carson Palmer damaged a nerve in his throwing shoulder in the opener and has not been able to throw a pass since. Enter Drew Stanton, Palmer’s backup who had not taken a snap in a regular-season game since 2010 or, as he put it, “a well-documented 1,100 days.”

All Stanton did was direct Arizona to a road win over the New York Giants, then throw a pair of third-quarter touchdown passes to rookie John Brown on Sunday against San Francisco. In that third quarter, he was 5-for-7 for 102 yards. Stanton has yet to be intercepted.

“He does more than manage the game,” Arians said. “He gave us a chance to win the game, especially with those throws in the red zone.”

Just how much longer Stanton will be the No. 1 quarterback is an open question.

Palmer hasn’t been able to throw for two weeks despite extensive treatment. He is hopeful that the bye week will allow what has been called a “dead nerve” to come to life.

If not, Stanton will be back at the controls when the Cardinals venture to Denver to face the Broncos on Oct. 5.

Whoever is the quarterback has an array of targets. Veteran Larry Fitzgerald, who didn’t catch a pass until the fourth quarter but still extended his streak of consecutive games with a reception to 152, is no longer the only option, often not even the second or third one.

Michael Floyd has taken Fitzgerald’s spot as the most dangerous wide receiver. He caught five for 114 yards on Sunday, his second 100-yard receiving game this year. Tight end John Carlson had a big catch in a first-and-long situation. And then there’s Brown, the diminutive speedster from little Pittsburg State who has been a sensation since the day he stepped on the training camp field.

“He’s very mature, very mature,” Arians said. “And he came in with a quick understanding of what we’re trying to get done. Very few rookies can adapt that fast, not only to the speed of the game but to the volume of information getting thrown at you.”

The defense, despite significant personnel changes, has shown its trademark ability to stop the run and make halftime adjustments under coordinator Todd Bowles.

And Stanton impressed Cardinals fans and players with his toughness after taking a series of fierce hits.

One came on the game-winning TD drive, when Stanton slid to the ground and was hit in the head by linebacker Dan Skuta. Skuta called it a bad call. The very next play, Stanton drew a roughing-the-passer penalty against Patrick Willis.

“The first one, I thought, was a cheap shot,” Arians said. “There’s no doubt he was sliding and that could have ended his career, that hit, but he’s extremely tough.”


AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL

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