The Arizona Cardinals did exactly what they needed to do. They took care of business and defeated the Cleveland Browns 34-20 on the road to improve to 6-2 on the season. Carson Palmer threw for a lot of yards and four scores. Larry Fitzgerald had nine catches. Michael Floyd had over 100 yards. Chris Johnson had over 100 yard on the ground.
What did we learn? Here are a few things.
Cards struggle with holding on to the ball
The Cardinals fumbled four times, losing three of them. They came from the guys you wouldn't expect -- Chris Johnson (twice) and Larry Fitzgerald. David Johnson also put the ball on the ground. That was not one of the good things.
Cards adjust in the second half
In part because the offense turned the ball over multiple times in the first half, the defense allowed three touchdowns. Cleveland didn't score in the second half. They allowed the Browns to convert on six of eight third downs in the first half. In the second half, they held the Browns to 3/8 on third down. They only allowed 98 yards in the second half and forced two turnovers. The defense was awful in the second quarter, but great the rest of the way.
Carson Palmer continues to be very, very good
Palmer was 23/38 for 374 yards, four touchdowns and an interception. He and the offense got off to a great start and he was very effective. There was a second quarter lull, but he was productive. He has the team record through half a season with 20 touchdown passes. It continues to be what might be his finest season.
Troy Niklas emerges
He had two catches, both for touchdowns. That was great to see.
Andre Ellington sees role disappearing
Bruce Arians said Ellington's role would increase. It didn't appear that way. He got only three carries (for zero yards) and was targeted in the passing game once. Chris Johnson got 30 of the 35 rushing attempts not by Carson Palmer.
The team struggles with adversity and then overcomes it
In the first half, it looked ugly for Arizona. They gave themselves adversity with turnovers and things fell apart. The defense couldn't stop Josh McCown. But then, in the second half, they turned it around. In the team's two losses, they didn't respond to adversity. Against Baltimore, they faced adversity and overcame it at the very last moment. This time around, the turned it around.
Arizona's offense is balanced...because of getting the lead
In the first half, it looked like the Cardinals were going to bail on the running game. They attempted 22 passes and 14 runs. At the end of the game, it was 38 rushes and 38 passing attempts. But it was easy to focus more on the run in the second half because they took the lead. It shows that the Cardinals are balanced offensively because they are winning rather than winning because they are balanced.