"Carson didn't lose the damn game. Nothing wrong with his damn finger," Arians said on the podium following Arizona's 49-15 loss to the Carolina Panthers in the NFC title game. "You can keep all them questions. We just didn't play well enough. Our best players especially didn't play well enough."
Palmer had the game of his nightmares, throwing four interceptions and losing two fumbles. This came on the heels of a shaky win over the Packers in which he had two turnovers and a fumble. Palmer dislocated his finger in Week 15 against the Eagles and acknowledged an adjustment in his throwing motion as a result of the injury had led to soreness elsewhere.
"This is as low as you can feel," Palmer said afterward. "I kept digging us a hole."
Arians pointed to the minutes before and after halftime as crucial in deciding the game. The Cardinals were trailing 17-7 when Patrick Peterson muffed a punt, giving the ball back to the Panthers in Arizona territory. The Cardinals snuffed out the ensuing Panthers possession with an interception and were marching down the field in the final minute of the half when Palmer forced a ball into coverage for an end zone interception.
Things went sideways from there for the NFC West champions.
"Trying to make too much happen too soon on that play," Arians lamented of the Palmer pick. "Just take the short one and we keep playing with two timeouts. Then we did not come out of the locker room with the effort defensively that we needed to stop them. We needed to change the tide in the first five minutes of the third quarter and we did not get it done."
"If you're not putting a ring on your finger, if that confetti isn't falling on your head, it's a bad year."