TEMPE, Ariz. — After viewing video of Arizona’s 16-13 overtime win at Indianapolis, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians was a lot less critical of his team’s play, particularly Carson Palmer’s performance.
“He played a whole lot better than I thought he did,” Arians said, “a whole lot better.”
Palmer completed 19 of 36 passes for 332 yards and Arizona’s lone touchdown with one particularly ugly interception.
“Really the only poor play that Carson had,” Arians said Monday.
The offense slogged along through three quarters and Arizona trailed 13-3 after Adam Vinatieri’s 29-yard field goal with 11:29 to play.
The Cardinals’ comeback started on their next possession, with the team facing third-and-20 from their 18-yard line. Somehow, Palmer hit Jaron Brown with a 22-yard pass to the 40.
“One for the ages,” Arians said.
Brown said Monday “it’s not how you usually want to do it but Carson made a great throw. I was lucky to come down with that one.”
A roughing-the-passer penalty added 15 more yards.
The next play was a 45-yard touchdown pass to J.J. Nelson, who caught five passes for 120 yards.
The Cardinals won it after Tyrann Mathieu intercepted Jacoby Brissett’s pass on the first play of overtime. Phil Dawson, who missed what would have been the game winner from 42 yards at the end of regulation, made a 30-yarder to give Arizona the shaky victory.
“Mental errors, execution,” Brown said of the offense’s struggles. “It comes down to making plays.”
Arians said Palmer was under pressure too much and laid the blame on the offensive line. By omission, he singled out the right side for criticism.
He said left tackle John Wetzel, filling in for the injured D.J. Humphries, “had a good game.” Left guard Alex Boone, playing in place of injured Mike Iupati, “had a solid game,” the coach said, and center A.Q. Shipley “had a real good game.”
That leaves right guard Evan Boehm and right tackle Jared Veldheer. Switched from the left side this season, Veldheer had trouble all afternoon with the Colts’ pass rush.
“It’s not easy,” Arians said of the switch, “but he’s had enough work at it now to use the proper technique. He’s got to trust his technique.”
Chris Johnson, just re-signed after being released in the final roster cuts, was the most effective Arizona running back, gaining 44 yards on 11 carries.
“I liked what I saw in Chris,” Arians said. “He’s more than ready to go.”
But the coach wouldn’t commit to moving Johnson to the top of the depth chart for next Monday night’s home opener against Dallas. Johnson said that didn’t concern him.
“I just went out there and controlled what I could control and made the most of my opportunities,” he said. “That’s all I can do. Everything else is out of my control.”
Of the four game balls awarded by the coach, Nelson was the only offensive player to get one. The others went to Mathieu, inside linebacker Karlos Dansby and inside linebacker Chandler Jones.
Dansby, who calls the defensive signals, had a team-high 10 tackles. Jones had seven tackles, two sacks, two tackles for loss, two quarterback hits and a forced fumble.
Arians was optimistic that Iupati (triceps) and tight end Jermaine Gresham (ribs) would be back for the Cowboys.
Humphries, out with a sprained knee, is “not anywhere near playing yet,” Arians said, but “with that injury, you could make great strides in two or three days.”
He was pessimistic about the chances of wide receiver John Brown (quadriceps) being able to play.
“It doesn’t look hopeful,” Arians said. “It would have to be miraculous.”
With the victory, Arians moved into a tie with Don Coryell for most wins by a coach in franchise history at 42 (Ken Whisenhunt leads with 49).
“It was a bad team for a long time,” he said.
NOTES: The Cardinals are tied with Washington for most second-most overtime wins in NFL history (25). Denver has 28. … Palmer became the franchise leader with his 23rd 300-yard passing performance. He had been tied with Hall of Famer Kurt Warner with 22.