JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It has taken 11 weeks, but the Arizona Cardinals may have finally found a recipe for winning.
And it has everything to do with their 33-year-old quarterback.
NFL veteran Carson Palmer passed for 419 yards and two touchdowns Sunday, but most importantly he did not throw an interception for the first time this season in the Cardinals' 27-14 win against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
That was a welcome sign for Arizona fans after Palmer began the season with 13 picks in his first eight games and Arizona got off to a 3-4 start. But in Palmer's last three outings -- all wins -- he has thrown just two interceptions and was on-point all day Sunday, feeding rookie wideout Michael Floyd for six catches for 193 yards, including a 91-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter that broke the game open.
Cardinals coach Bruce Arians loved what he saw out of Palmer on Sunday.
"He has a total understanding of what we're doing," he said. "It's starting to click."
The Jaguars' quarterback situation, meanwhile, isn't shaping up to be as promising.
Chad Henne, who led Jacksonville (1-9) to its first win last week at Tennessee, had his most effective half of the season when he was 13-for-15 passing for 139 yards and a TD before intermission. But he finished 27-for-42 with 255 yards, threw two fourth-quarter interceptions and was sacked twice. The Jags were also a dismal 2 of 14 on third-down conversions and were held scoreless for the final 50 minutes of the game after jumping out to an early 14-7 lead.
Jacksonville's first score came on a 62-yard catch by tight end Danny Nobles on fourth-and-1 on the Jags' opening drive, followed by a 1-yard rushing score from franchise running back Maurice Jones-Drew on their second.
Nobles' first catch of his career was his only grab and he led all Jags' wideouts, while Jones-Drew continued to disappoint, finishing with just 24 yards on 13 carries -- and he still hasn't broken 75 yards in a game this season.
"We started off strong, went down and scored and had some big plays, but after those two scores, we struggled," Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said. "We were let down defensively after that, and on offense we had a couple of big penalties, two interceptions -- and those are just things we have to learn to overcome."
What the Cardinals said
"I had a really clean pocket for the most part, stepped into a lot of throws. I thought we executed very well in the second half and guys made some big plays. It was a must-win and we got the job done." -- Quarterback Carson Palmer.
"We came into this game and wanted to execute on offense. We feel like we have to set the bar high for our offense, and each and every week we're getting better. It starts up front. When you give (quarterback) Carson (Palmer) protection, he can make all the throws and we can make all the catches." -- Wide receiver Michael Floyd on Sunday's career-high 193-yard receiving performance that included a 91-yard touchdown catch-and-run.
What the Jaguars said
"We're definitely getting after it. The young guys are coming along, so we're starting to respect them and they're getting to the rush and getting a lot of quarterback hits. We're giving them their money's worth." -- Defensive end Jeremy Mincey on being able to hold the Cardinals to a season-low 24 yards rushing and sacking quarterback Carson Palmer three times.
What we learned about Cardinals
1. The Cardinals need to improve their run game if they want to make a playoff run. Ranked 24th in the NFL at 93.6 yards a game, Arizona's rushing attack took a huge step back Sunday when it tallied a season-low 24 yards between starting running back Rashard Mendenhall and backup Andre Ellington. Mendenhall didn't do anything to quiet his recent critics who say he should be benched in favor of Ellington, who is actually second in the NFL in yards per carry (7.2), despite the fact Arizona's rushing attack as a whole is struggling.
2. The Cardinals' rush defense is just fine. Arizona came into the game with the third-ranked rushing defense in the NFL, and they did a lot Sunday to keep that spot. Giving up an average of 86.9 yards a game, Arizona -- led by Jerraud Powers' six tackles, while five others players tallied five each -- held Jacksonville to just 32 yards on the ground, which marks their best defensive effort up front all season.
What we learned about the Jaguars
1. The Jaguars have to find a way to get first-round draft pick Denard Robinson involved. Robinson was electric when he was a star for Michigan just a year ago -- becoming the first player in NCAA history to pass for 2,500 yards and rush for 1,500 more in a season -- but his stock has plummeted since the Jaguars took the WR/RB/QB with the 29th pick in the first round a year ago. Robinson continues to struggle to find a place in Jacksonville's offense.
2. Jaguars punter Bryan Anger is a weapon again. Anger was in a mini-slump last month. The surprising third-round draft pick a year ago out of Cal saw his punting average of 48.6 yards dip a yard from his rookie season, and last week in the Jaguars' lone win of the season against Tennessee, he punted seven times for an average of 43.4 yards a kick. On Sunday, during Jacksonville's 27-14 loss to Arizona, Anger returned to form with eight punts for an average of 47.8 yards and a long of 58, including six that pinned Cardinals dangerous return man Patrick Peterson deep.