'Comeback Cardinals' alone atop NL West at 2-0

Arizona Cardinals running back Jonathan Dwyer (20) celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the New York Giants on Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Kathy Willens

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) The `Comeback Cardinals' find themselves alone in first place in the NFC West heading into an important game at home against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.

Whether Arizona will have quarterback Carson Palmer back for that game remains a big question.

Backup Drew Stanton filled in admirably in the Cardinals' 25-14 road victory over the New York Giants on Sunday, the second game in a row that Arizona won with a fourth-quarter comeback.

Palmer is nursing what coach Bruce Arians called ''a bruised nerve that's being ornery'' in his throwing shoulder.

''We're doing every kind of research we possibly can,'' Arians said on Monday. ''He's getting every kind of treatment known to man. He's got more needles sticking in him half the day than most of us in our lifetime. We're still researching what possible other things we can do for him.''

Arians said Monday that Palmer could play against the 49ers even if he doesn't practice all week. In the meantime, Stanton will be working with the starters in practice until Palmer can replace him.

''Carson's going to play if he can,'' Stanton said. ''Everybody's aware of how tough he is and he prides himself in playing football games and playing season-long. I mean, I didn't take a snap last year.''

In fact, Stanton hadn't taken a snap in a regular-season game since December of 2010.

Asked if he was concerned about any long-term damage to Carson's shoulder, Arians said, ''anytime you're dealing with nerves, you're concerned. `'

Palmer was injured in the season opener and did very little in practice last week.

''If he can go, he'll go,'' Arians said. ''This is one of those crazy things where you'll wake up one day and be fine. We don't know what day that's going to be, though. That's the thing. Drew (Stanton) will continue to work. We'll get Logan (Thomas, the third-string quarterback) some work and just see how it goes.''

The Cardinals won against the Giants despite playing on a short week, traveling cross-country and having a backup quarterback. But Arians didn't like much of what he saw.

''The tape showed a football team that didn't play its best and won a football game,'' he said. ''We really played poorly defensively, much below our standard, and still won a football game.''

Arizona won largely because of four New York turnovers to none for the Cardinals, along with Ted Ginn Jr.'s 72-yard punt return.

Cornerback Antonio Cromartie agreed with Arians' assessment of the defense.

''There's a standard that we all set here and it's a very high standard,'' Cromartie said. ''We didn't play up to that standard. We made some mistakes and they capitalized on them.''

Arians was particularly critical of All-Pro cornerback Patrick Peterson.

''I thought it was his poorest game since I've been here,'' the coach said. ''He got frustrated and let the referees get to him. The referees called a heck of a game. The players played a bad one.''

The defense could have the services of outside linebacker John Abraham against San Francisco. Arians said Abraham has decided against retirement and plans to return to the team Tuesday. He had taken a leave of absence after sustaining a concussion in the season opener, and Arians had said Abraham was considering retirement.

Abraham is the NFL's active career sacks leader (133 1/2) and ranks ninth on the career list. He will immediately get his starting job back, Arians said.

The Cardinals have lost four straight against San Francisco and nine of the last 10. Arizona is 9-2 dating back to last season, but one of those losses was at home to the 49ers in the 2013 season finale.

''This is a big one,'' Arians said. ''The way the crowd was for San Diego, I would expect it to be even better.''

Arizona moved into first place at this very early stage of the season after reigning Super Bowl champion Seattle lost at San Diego and San Francisco was beaten at home by Chicago.

''Once you're in first place you want to stay there,'' Arians said. ''You've done the job so far. You look at the tape and know you can even play better, a lot better, than yesterday, and you respect your opponent coming in that we haven't beaten in a while.''

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

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