With little practice, Palmer returns and leads Cardinals to 30-20 win over reeling Redskins

His Arizona Cardinals teammates didn't know Carson Palmer would be their quarterback until after the team suited up for Sunday's game against Washington.

Palmer hadn't played since the season opener, relegated to the sidelines while the troublesome "dead" nerve in his throwing shoulder refused to respond to treatment.

That finally changed late last week, and Palmer — with only a part of a practice on Friday — helped the Cardinals (4-1) beat the reeling Redskins 30-20.

"He's a tough guy," running back Andre Ellington said. "He's our leader and he wasn't going to let us down."

Coach Bruce Arians didn't ease up on the game plan.

Palmer threw 44 times, completing 28 for 250 yards and two touchdowns. He was not intercepted.

"Forty-four attempts is probably right on par with what Bruce wants to do," Palmer said. "I wasn't' expecting to go out and throw 18, that's for sure. It felt good and I'm very pleased to be where I am."

Palmer threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Michael Floyd and a 24-yarder to Larry Fitzgerald.

Now Palmer hopes to be able to practice normally.

"I just need reps," he said. "I need work. I need to throw a bunch, a bunch, a bunch just to get my arm strong because it's definitely weak."

The Redskins (1-5) lost their fourth straight and 13th in their last 14 games.

"It's bad. It's awful," safety Ryan Clark said of Washington's record. "It means you're not a very good football team."

First-year coach Jay Gruden said it was a "collective failure pretty much."

Here are some things of note from Arizona's victory:

TURNOVER AVALANCHE: After going without a turnover through three quarters, the Redskins committed four in the fourth quarter. Cousins was intercepted three times, twice by Rashad Johnson, who returned the second one 28 yards for a touchdown with 18 seconds to play.

Andre Roberts also lost a fumble, picked up by Arizona's Tyrann Mathieu to set up one of Chandler Catanzaro's three field goals..

The play was reviewed amid Redskin claims that Roberts was down before the ball broke free, but officials ruled the call should stand.

"We did not feel there was conclusive video proof that the knee was down when the ball started to come loose," referee Ed Hochuli told a pool reporter, "not when the ball was completely loose, but when does the ball start to come loose is what keys it."

NO PICKS: The Cardinals have yet to throw an interception this season. Palmer almost did when he threw directly into the hands of linebacker Brian Orakpo, but he dropped it.

Orakpo injured his left hand early this season but wouldn't blame that for the drop.

"I just missed it," he said. "It's just something I got to make. I've got to make that play."

Arizona did not commit a turnover and is plus-nine in takeaways this season.

FANTASTIC FITZ: Larry Fitzgerald often has found himself a bit player statistically this season. He entered the game with just 13 catches and no touchdowns, but he was a big part of the game plan on Sunday.

Fitzgerald caught six passes for a season-high 98 yards and his 88th career TD, moving him into 12th in the NFL's all-time list.

Asked how it felt to have a major impact in the game, he said, "I've had major impacts on many games."

"Mentally, I've always prepared myself for a big day," Fitzgerald said. "If it happens, it happens. If it doesn't, it doeesn.t I take the same approach every single week, every single day in my preparation."

ALONE ON TOP: With the victory and Seattle's loss to Dallas, Arizona is alone atop the NFC West.

Palmer downplayed that fact.

"I don't think we're going to put a huge emphasis on that," he said. "We are where we are and the rest of our division is where they are. ... We're a long ways away from thinking about postseason and all the things that can happen, the records and what's happening in Seattle, St. Louis and San Francisco. That's not our focus. Our focus needs to go right now."

OKAFOR'S SACKS: Arizona has had a hard time getting to the quarterback this season, and Alex Okafor put some serious pressure on Kirk Cousins, sacking the Washington quarterback twice.

It was Okafor's first sack following the knee cartilage injury to Matt Shaughnessy.

"More than anything coaches are going to put us in a position to succeed," Okafor said. "They know the strengths and weaknesses of every player and the scheme this week was great for us.

"It was great for me. They just gave me the opportunity to go out there, get comfortable and make some plays. That's what I did."


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