They're back: 3 big takeaways from the Arizona Cardinals' blowout win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Posted at 4:10 PM, Sep 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-18 21:14:00-04

After a one-week hiatus, the 2015 Arizona Cardinals team that won a franchise-record 13 games was back on display.

Many concerns that the Cards generated with last week's loss to the Patriots were put to rest Sunday afternoon at University of Phoenix Stadium as the Cards routed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 40-7 to improve to 1-1 on the season.

Here are three big takeaways from the Cards' impressive victory.

1. Cooper shines as defense steps up

Welcome to the Arizona Cardinals, Marcus Cooper. The Cards acquired the fourth-year NFL cornerback in a trade with the Chiefs just two weeks ago -- and in his first action as a member of the Birdgang, Cooper recorded two interceptions and returned his second pick 60 yards for a touchdown.

Cooper replaced struggling rookie Brandon Williams early in the game, and based on what happened Sunday, that arrangement may be permanent.

Cooper was just one component of a revived Cards defense that was picked apart last weekend against the Patriots. Arizona recorded five turnovers against Tampa Bay -- all at the expense of Tampa Bay QB Jameis Winston -- and led by safeties Tyvon Branch and Tony Jefferson, the Cards made some excellent open-field tackles.

Earlier this week, Cards cornerback Patrick Peterson said there was a different energy during practice compared to the previous week. It showed on the field Sunday, and it was great to see.

2. David Johnson is still good at football

Much to the chagrin of his fantasy owners, Cards running back David Johnson didn't score Sunday. But the second-year pro still had a phenomenal outing, especially through the air.

Johnson recorded 98 receiving yards on three catches to complement his 45 rushing yards on 12 carries. Take a look at this gem.

By the way: Johnson will be the Cardinals' guest Monday night at the Big Red Brew Haus at UOP Stadium beginning at 6 p.m. If you can't make it out, you can ask D.J. a question during ABC15's Facebook Live event beginning at 7.

3. Palmer good enough but inconsistent

Let's be clear: Cards QB Carson Palmer made some outstanding throws Sunday, including this bomb to Jaron Brown in the final minute of the first half, en route to surpassing Joe Montana for 16th place in career NFL passing yards.

Still, Palmer made some poor passes (13 incompletions on 31 attempts) and poor decisions Sunday, including a throw in the end zone that should have been intercepted in the third quarter. He threw three first-half TD passes for the first time in his last 90 games, and he had a quarterback rating of 124.1, but anyone who watched Sunday's game knows that doesn't quite tell the entire story.

This isn't an attempt to throw a wet blanket on a great all-around victory. I'd just like to see Palmer be a bit more consistent for a full 60 minutes going forward. He'll have another opportunity next Sunday at Buffalo, which gave up 374 passing yards to Jets QB Ryan Fitzpatrick on Thursday.

Bonus: Fitz being Fitz

We'd be remiss if we didn't acknowledge another fantastic outing from Larry Fitzgerald, who made his 101st career touchdown catch Sunday and nearly added No. 102.

Altogether, it was a six-catch, 81-yard day for the future Hall of Famer.