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Carson Palmer Recap: Balance of Deep Passes and Short Screens Key Oakland Air Superiority

On Thursday night, the game between the Raiders and Chargers was billed as a battle between two quarterbacks. Only one of them came out of the game looking dominant. Carson Palmer threw for 299 yards in the game, twenty-five more yards than Philip Rivers threw for despite Palmer attempting a staggering 27 fewer passes on the evening. Palmer finished the night with a stellar 125.0 passer rating and a 70% completion percentage. Rivers, conversely, completed under 50% of his passes with a 72.5 passer rating.

Early on on the game when Jacoby Ford went down with injury, it seemed as though Palmer may struggle with his new favorite target sidelined. However, Denarius Moore simply shifted into that role and totally shined, catching five passes including two beautiful touchdowns. Palmer also hit Michael Bush with some nifty screen passes, which were successful primarily due to the defense being stretched out of respect for Palmer's deep ball. This is not a luxury Jason Campbell ever afforded the Raiders. On a crucial third down late in the fourth quarter, Palmer was able to calmly step up in the pocket and complete a pass to Kevin Boss for a key first down to keep the clock moving.

Palmer did have a couple turnovers, but those were due to pressure from edge rushers and not due to any sort of poor decision-making on his part. He played this game with calm, cool precision. Michael Bush may have dominated this game, but it was clearly Palmer's ability to keep the defense back on their heels that enabled the Raiders to move the ball so effectively. It may still be too early to tell definitively, but if Palmer keeps putting up numbers and posting victories like this, he will be well worth the price paid to acquire him.