The Detroit Lions and Arizona Cardinals’ offenses have seemingly discovered new dimensions with their respective offseason additions.
How Reggie Bush and Carson Palmer follow their strong Week 1 performances will likely play a crucial role in deciding the victor in Sunday’s meeting at Arizona.
Bush, who signed a four-year deal with Detroit (1-0) in the offseason, had a historic performance in the club’s 34-24 victory over Minnesota. He became the third Lion to tally at least 90 rushing yards and 100 receiving yards and the first since Barry Sanders on Oct. 14, 1990. His day included an electrifying 77-yard catch and run for a touchdown, his longest career play from scrimmage.
The 90 yards on the ground by Bush were especially welcome after Detroit finished 23rd in total rushing in 2012. Only four Lions backs ran for more than 84 yards in a single game over the last three seasons, with Mikel Leshoure’s 100-yard effort the only such performance last year.
Bush – also courted by Arizona in the offseason – helped Detroit total 469 yards, its highest Week 1 output in 33 years.
The eighth-year back said the six and even five-man fronts he saw at times – largely due to Calvin Johnson’s presence – were a welcome change from his two seasons with Miami. Even with Johnson limited to four catches for 37 yards on nine targets, Matthew Stafford’s 357 passing yards tied for fifth-most in the league.
While Bush missed only one game with the Dolphins, he still carries an injury-prone stigma. He suffered a dislocated thumb and a pulled groin in the win, but was a full participant in practice Wednesday.
“Reggie’s a tough guy,” coach Jim Schwartz said. “You’re a running back in the NFL, there’s going to be some Mondays where you’re not going to be feeling great. Feel a little bit better when you get the win and when you make the plays that he made. That’s what we’re looking for from him.”
Palmer came up short of a victory in the Cardinals’ 27-24 loss at St. Louis, but was nearly as impressive as his USC compatriot while breathing life into an Arizona club that averaged 15.6 points last season, second-fewest in the NFL.
He finished 26 of 40 with two TDs and one interception, and his 327 yards were the most by a Cardinals quarterback since Kurt Warner’s 340 on Nov. 15, 2009.
Acquired in a trade from Oakland, Palmer appears to have finally brought the stability the Cardinals have sought since Warner retired after the 2009 season. They started four different quarterbacks last season, combining for an NFL-worst 63.1 passer rating and 21 interceptions compared to 11 TDs.
Larry Fitzgerald – who caught a career-low four TDs last season – certainly benefited, catching eight balls for 80 yards and two scores. Andre Roberts also turned in one of his best games with eight receptions for 97 yards and Michael Floyd added 82 on four catches.
Arizona will be focused on protecting Palmer better, however, after he was sacked four times. Left tackle Levi Brown was responsible for three of them, one of which led to a lost fumble by Palmer.
“Obviously, they (the Rams) have a great pass rush and no, I’m not concerned about the offensive line,” first-year coach Bruce Arians said.
Lining up against the Cardinals’ offensive line will be Ndamukong Suh, who is appealing a $100,000 fine he received for an illegal block against Vikings center John Sullivan. Suh, who lost nearly $350,000 in his first three seasons due to fines and a suspension stemming from on-field misconduct, doesn’t plan on altering his approach.
“I’m going to continue to play hard, blue-collar football,” he said.
Bush might be able to do more damage as a receiver than as a runner Sunday, as Arizona held St. Louis to 2.8 yards per carry but surrendered 299 yards through the air and was one of three teams failing to record a sack.
The Cardinals’ only victory in their last 13 regular-season games was a 38-10 final over Detroit in Week 15 last year, their fourth straight win in the series.
Johnson had been held to six catches for 72 yards in his first two games versus Arizona before totaling 121 yards on 10 receptions. Stafford, though, matched a season high by being picked off three times.
Bush ran 17 times for 67 yards and didn’t catch a pass last year in his only matchup with the Cardinals.
Palmer has completed 71.3 percent of his passes for 861 yards and five TDs in three contests versus Detroit.
Arizona has won six in a row over Detroit at home and nine of the last 12 overall.
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