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Palmer aims to strike back


The last time the Panthers faced Carson Palmer, he wasn't around to try to rally his team in the fourth quarter.

He hopes for another chance with another team Sunday, when the Panthers visit the Arizona Cardinals.

In Week 16 of the 2012 season, Palmer was the starting quarterback for the Oakland Raiders when they visited Carolina. Palmer didn't survive the first half, suffering cracked ribs and a bruised lung on a vicious hit by Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy that drew a flag but drew the Panthers closer to victory.

"I do definitely remember it, and I probably won't forget it. He got me good," Palmer said. "I gave him an opportunity to get me, and I don't think it should have been flagged. I think those kinds of hits now, just because they look pretty gruesome, get flagged.

"But it was a legal hit, and my own fault for not getting rid of the football."

Palmer knows that he can't afford to hold onto the ball Sunday against Hardy and the Panthers' other hard-charging defensive linemen. If he can hold them off and keep the game close heading into the fourth quarter, the Cardinals will take their chances with the veteran at the helm.

When first-year Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians looked to solidify the team's quarterback situation, he said he sought the best available player, one equipped "to overcome adversity and win in the fourth quarter."

So far, Palmer has fit the bill. Acquired in a trade with the Raiders, Palmer led the Cardinals to three unanswered scores late in their two victories to date, rallying Arizona past Detroit in Week 2 and Tampa Bay last week.

"Usually the young guys get too far down on themselves, or the guys around them, to be able to come back from nine or ten points down, especially if they made a mistake," Arians said. "Carson threw a pick-six to Detroit, and boom, he's right back on the sideline and said, 'Look, it's my fault. Everything's fine, you guys are good. You just keep doing what you're doing.'

"That leadership, that grit, I had always seen it."

But Palmer can't rally the troops if he isn't in the battle, and that could be a challenge against a defense that sacked New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning seven times in the Panthers' last game.

"You just can't say enough about the front seven that they have," said Palmer, who likened Hardy's game to that of former Panthers standout Julius Peppers. "There's so many guys that are great pass rushers or great against the run, but they (Hardy and Charles Johnson) play both extremely well. They've been high on the sack list since they've been there, but they also play the run very well.

"They play extremely hard. They've both got great motors. They both got some help inside of them with a couple of really good players that they rotate in and out, and then probably the best linebacking corps in the league. It's a very good group up front."

On the other hand, the guys up front for Palmer have had their share of struggles. The Cardinals allowed an NFL-high 58 sacks last season but have retooled this year and are in the middle of the pack so far with 10 sacks allowed. They'll shuffle things again Sunday when Bradley Sowell – who was teammates with Hardy at Mississippi – is expected to get his first career start after the Cardinals traded left tackle Levi Brown to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Wednesday.

Whoever is on the field for the Cardinals offense, Palmer knows the unit needs to pick up the pace against the Panthers.

"For us in the last two weeks to score 20 points is just not good enough," Palmer said. "Our defense has been playing extremely, extremely well, but you can't just rely on the defense.

"We need to find ways to get the chains moving, get some momentum. Really we just need to be efficient. We have not been efficient."

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