- Associated Press - Monday, September 28, 2015

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) - The points keep piling up for the Arizona Cardinals.

In the latest display, a 47-7 romp over the San Francisco 49ers, the defense had a hand in the deluge.

The Cardinals (3-0) intercepted four of Colin Kaepernick’s passes, returning two for touchdowns, to open an early two-game lead in the NFC West.

“It was a great day,” Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald said.

A week earlier, the Cardinals won at Chicago 48-23, making this the first time since 1969 that Arizona had scored 40 points in consecutive games. The 40-point margin was its biggest since a 44-0 win over Houston in 1970.

They have 126 points in three games (42 points per game) and are the fourth team in NFL history - first since Dallas in 1968 - to have 17 touchdowns in their first three games.

To which Carson Palmer says, it’s just three games, and it can get much better.

“I know it wasn’t perfect,” he said. “I know it wasn’t pretty.”

It looked pretty good to the packed house at University of Phoenix Stadium that was delirious after Arizona returned two of Kaepernick’s first four passes for touchdowns. Justin Bethel, in his first play from scrimmage this season, took the first one back 21 yards. Tyrann Mathieu ran 33 yards for the score with the second. Mathieu added another interception later.

The defense got two more points when Kevin Minter tackled Carlos Hyde for a safety.

The 49ers lost in a blowout on the road for the second week in a row. They were beaten at Pittsburgh 43-18 a week earlier.

Here are some things to ponder in Arizona’s one-sided victory.

TAKING BLAME: Kaepernick, whose four interceptions were a career-worst, put the weight of the loss fully on his shoulders.

“Today was 100 percent my fault,” he said. “There’s nothing anyone in that locker room could have done to change that game today the way I played.”

Kaepernick spent part of the offseason in Arizona working with Kurt Warner to improve his footwork and technique.

Those improvements were not on display Sunday.

“I have to be better for the team to move forward,” he said.

FITZ ON FIRE: Fitzgerald had a second consecutive big game as Palmer’s chief target, catching nine passes for 134 yards and two touchdowns.

But it’s more than just receiving, Palmer said.

“He’s different than any other superstar I’ve been around,” Palmer said. “What he does for the team and what he does in the run game is unbelievable. He’s the best blocking receiver in the league, but you’ve got to worry about him in so many other areas.”

CJ ON THE MOVE: Chris Johnson, filling in again for Andre Ellington, had his best performance yet for Arizona.

Signed late in the preseason, Johnson rushed for 110 yards in 22 carries. He also caught two passes for 40 yards, making one of his trademark cuts on the sidelines on a 30-yard pass play.

“It feels good,” he said. “I never played with a team like this that had so many threats. To just go out there and contribute feels great.”

EMBARRASSED: That’s the word linebacker Ahmad Brooks used to describe the 49ers’ performance.

But he insists the team has the makings to be successful.

“I don’t think I’ve ever lost a game by 40 points,” Brooks said. “I know what this team is capable of doing. We just have to believe in each other and we have to want to make plays. We have to want to win and believe that.”

It doesn’t get any easier. San Francisco is home against Green Bay next Sunday.

PALMER KEEPS WINNING: Palmer won his ninth game in a row as a starter and his 15th in 17 games.

He was 20 of 32 for 311 yards and two touchdowns. He threw his first interception of the season. But the 49ers gave it right back with Mathieu’s second interception.



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

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