Carson Palmer came into the NFC Championship game hoping to shake the moniker of not playing well in the playoffs despite racking up huge numbers in the regular season.
But it all came crashing down with an abysmal performance against the Carolina Panthers that saw the Arizona Cardinals as a team turn the ball over seven times and Palmer himself responsible for two fumbles and four interceptions.
Carson Palmer with 4 Ints tonight for the 4th time in his career (1st since 2013). pic.twitter.com/sNCcy6Ca4x
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 25, 2016
As reported by NPR, the Carolina Panthers defeated the Arizona Cardinals in convincing fashion 49-15 to earn a trip to the Super Bowl for the first time since 2004.
But it was Carson Palmer’s performance that overshadowed what would have ordinarily been all about the dominating Carolina defense.
Carson Palmer had a great fantasy season. His playoffs have been more like a nightmare. Looks like he’s back in his Oakland days.
— Michael Fabiano (@Michael_Fabiano) January 25, 2016
It wasn’t just that Palmer was a turnover machine, it was the ineptitude that made his performance all the more incredulous. At one point, the Cardinals QB threw interceptions on consecutive series, one that was ultimately returned for a pick-six by Carolina star linebacker Luke Kuechly.
— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) January 25, 2016
However, at that point, the game had already gotten away from the Cardinals. It was an earlier interception with the game still in reach that seemed to rattle Palmer and disrupt any momentum he might have had in the game. That play came in the third quarter with the Cardinals down 27-15. Palmer heaved up a bad pass into double coverage that was picked in the end zone. He was never the same for the rest of the game.
Carson Palmer may never be the same after this one. Cardinals would be wise to start looking for their next QB sooner than later.
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) January 25, 2016
Palmer’s performance was so bad that it resembled the play of third-stringer Ryan Lindley in last year’s playoff game against these same Panthers.
FINAL QB ratings: Ryan Lindley (2015): 44.3 Carson Palmer (2016): 43.2 Couldn’t quite get there in garbage time.
— Gridiron Arizona (@gridironarizona) January 25, 2016
Before the NFC Championship, game much was made about Palmer’s playoff record and how his career would be forever defined by not being able to win the big game. A New York Times article posed that very question before game time.
“After 160 regular-season games played, 5,443 passes attempted, 259 touchdown passes thrown, Palmer has seen his career boiled down to a simple question: Does he have what it takes to win a championship — this season or otherwise?”
But last week’s victory over the Green Bay Packers in overtime provided hope for many Cardinals fans looking for their first Super Bowl appearance since Kurt Warner and Larry Fitzgerald brought Arizona to the precipice against the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2008. Palmer didn’t play exceptionally well, but he did enough to get his team past Aaron Rodgers and his late game heroics connecting with Larry Fitzgerald on an 80-yard play in overtime that helped win the game.
Ultimately however, Palmer took on a formidable Panthers defense and will now be home watching the Super Bowl in two weeks. The Panthers will be taking on the Denver Broncos, who slipped past the New England Patriots in a thrilling contest earlier in the day.
According to Fan Side, the Panthers are already favored to win by 5 points over Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos when they meet February 7th.
Who do you think will win the Super Bowl, the Carolina Panthers or the Denver Broncos? And will Carson Palmer ever lead the Arizona Cardinals to the Super Bowl in his career?
[Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images]