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Cardinals vs. Browns: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Arizona came away with the win, but it definitely wasn't pretty throughout.

Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

Let's take a look at what went right and what went wrong in the Cardinals' week 8 victory over the Cleveland Browns.

The Good

Carson Palmer - What a season Palmer is having.  Going 23-38 for 374 yards and four TDs on Sunday, it's not a surprise that Palmer is currently the fourth leading passer in the league.  While at times Palmer made questionable calls, and at other times missed his receivers (like a wide open Michael Floyd down the field), he turned out an overall great performance, and the team won because of it.

Chris Johnson - I know people are going to point to Johnson's two fumbles as reason enough to keep him off this list, and while that is a fair point, let me make a case for him. Johnson was a training camp signee who was expected to primarily fill a backseat role to Ellington.  Instead, Johnson has become the unquestioned starter, and against the Browns, recorded his fourth 100 yard game of the season, rushing 109 yards off 30 carries.  Yes, he had a turnover problem on Sunday, and yes, his YPC was low, but Johnson is currently the second leading rusher in the league, and that's as good an argument as any.

Third downs - One way to win a game is to win the third down battle.  Against the Browns, the Cardinals converted on 13 of 16 third downs.  This is an important stat to remember, as it speaks volumes about the offense, and their ability to stay on the field.

The entire 2nd half - I'll be honest: At halftime, I wasn't in the best mood.  The Cardinals were down 7-20, and so far, it was looking like Pittsburgh all over again.  But then the team adjusted, came out in the 3rd quarter, and proceeded to score 24 unanswered points (three touchdowns and one FG).  The defense should also receive some commendations, as James Bettcher's halftime adjustments resulted in the Browns being shutout the entire 2nd half.

Injured Receivers show up - Michael Floyd scored a TD for the third game in a row while notching 106 yards.  Troy Niklas brought in two TDs of his own.  J.J. Nelson recorded 70 yards, including a huge 38 yard catch in the 1st quarter (which led to the first TD of the game).  Injuries have gotten in the way of their seasons, but now, midway through 2015, they're finally showing up to play.

Drew Butler - Butler has been maligned all season for his punting skills, and at times, the criticism has been well deserved.  On Sunday, Butler didn't get the opportunity to punt very much (thankfully), but he did average 50 yards on both his attempts.  Perhaps the worst has passed us?

The Bad

The 1st Half - Despite Palmer striking first in the game with the Niklas TD, Josh McCown's offense dominated the first two quarters, with McCown passing for three TDs to put Cleveland up 13 points.  The offense turned the ball over one too many times, and at the half, after Larry Fitzgerald had fumbled the ball, I was ready to turn off the game.  Luckily for everyone not named Josh McCown, the Cardinals came out at the half and went on to dominate every aspect of the game.

-1st Half defense - Going off of the last point, I want to highlight the fact that Josh McCown passed for three TDs in the 1st half.  You don't win games like this.  Well, the Cardinals do, but regardless, while they deserve all the credit in the world for coming out in the 3rd quarter and making the adjustments needed to lockdown McCown, the defense won't be able to get away with this against better teams.

Fitz's Ankle - Fitz hauled in a 6 yard TD pass in the 4th quarter to put the Cardinals up 31-20, but injured his ankle during the play.  It doesn't appear to be serious, but any time Fitz goes down hard, it is a negative.

The Ugly

Turnovers - Wow, this wasn't a fun one to remember.  The Cardinals turned the ball over four times on Sunday.  Three of those were in the form of fumbles, courtesy of Johnson and Fitz.  The fourth was a Palmer interception late in the third quarter, which was the result of a forced throw to Fitz in double coverage.  The team now leads the league in turnovers.  This is something they need to work on in the bye week.