Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) passes against the Oakland Raiders during the first quarter of an NFL football game in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Ben Margot
October 20, 2014
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) passes against the Oakland Raiders during the first quarter of an NFL football game in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Ben Margot

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) Carson Palmer left his homecoming game in Oakland in a position he rarely held during his two seasons with the Raiders: first place.

Palmer threw for 253 yards and two touchdowns in his first game against the Raiders since being traded following the 2012 season, and the Arizona Cardinals sent Oakland to its 12th straight loss with a 24-13 victory on Sunday.

''I didn't feel a chip on my shoulder,'' Palmer said. ''I've been in this business a long time and I understand the business side of it. Unfortunately, they went in a different direction and you just have to roll with the punches and find a new place to go.''

It helps that he has had so much success there.

Stepfan Taylor caught one touchdown and ran for another, and Andre Ellington gained 160 yards from scrimmage for the Cardinals (5-1), who are off to their best start since 1976.

With Seattle losing in St. Louis, and San Francisco falling at Denver, the Cardinals have a two-game lead in the loss column in the tough NFC West.

''It's just good to be in the driver's seat in our division,'' receiver Larry Fitzgerald said. ''It's a long year. It's only Week 7. We have a long way to go.''

Darren McFadden ran for a touchdown for the Raiders (0-6), who are off to their worst start since losing their first 13 games in 1962 - the year before late owner Al Davis joined the franchise.

''This is as bad as you're going to get through the first part of the season,'' safety Charles Woodson said. ''We haven't won a game. How much worse can it get than that, than not winning a game?''

Here are some other takeaways from the game:

HAPPY HOMECOMING: Palmer wasn't the only Arizona player returning to Oakland. Defensive tackle Tommy Kelly, who played nine years here, and left tackle Jared Veldheer, who played four, also returned in a new uniform.

''It was a ton of nostalgia, more than I even thought would hit me being back,'' Veldheer said.

STREAK SNAPPED: Palmer made one mistake in another wise clean game, overthrowing John Carlson over the middle late in the first half on a pass that was intercepted by Charles Woodson. That was Arizona's first interception of the season, ending a streak of 241 passes without a pick since last season.

THIRD-DOWN WOES: The Raiders again were done in defensively by the inability to get off the field on third downs. Arizona converted 9 of 14 attempts, scoring two of its three touchdowns on third-down throws. For the season, the Raiders have allowed an NFL-worst 52.9 percent of third downs to be converted, which would be the worst ever recorded. Raiders opponents have completed 44 of 56 passes for 499 yards, eight touchdowns and no interceptions on third down this season.

''It's like one of those things where you don't know what the problem is,'' defensive tackle Antonio Smith said. ''Each week you're going in trying to fix something, and each week you wonder why it's not working.''

HOLD ON: The Raiders made a switch at holder with backup quarterback Matt Schaub taking over the duties from punter Marquette King. Sebastian Janikowski missed nine field goals last season, as well as a key 53-yarder last week, as he struggled to adjust to King after years with Shane Lechler as his holder. Janikowski made both field goal attempts, including a 53-yarder.

''We'll continue to do that right now as long the thing works out fine,'' interim coach Tony Sparano said.

MOCKERY: As if the loss wasn't bad enough, injured Arizona defensive lineman Darnell Dockett rubbed it a little more. After being heckled by fans throughout the game, Dockett held up a sign for the fans behind the Cardinals bench, saying ''Worst Team in NFL. 0-6.'' He even added a smiley face inside the zero for the number of Raiders wins.



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