TEMPE, Ariz. -- As Bruce Arians was about to head into the locker room at halftime on Sunday, FOX sideline reporter Laura Okmin asked the Arizona Cardinals head coach what the problem seems to be with Arizona's offense.
Arians, whose team was trailing 10-3 on the road to Indianapolis at the time, said simply two words.
At the end of the day, Carson Palmer and the struggling offense managed to outlast the Colts 16-13 in overtime, but you could tell the quarterback is beginning to feel a little sour at Arians' ongoing criticisms.
"I'm always trying to play better," Palmer said. "I'm always looking to play better and improve."
Palmer was besieged by unpleasant words from his head coach a week ago during the Cardinals' season-opening 35-23 loss at Detroit, when the quarterback was picked off three times, including once for a touchdown. He was better this time around, passing for 322 yards and one score with only one pick, but Palmer couldn't get anything going early on against the Colts.
It's fair to point out, of course, that he was missing five starters on offense, including the team's best player, running back David Johnson, who might be out until Christmas following left wrist surgery. But the Cardinals were also playing without left tackle D.J. Humphries (sprained MCL), left guard Mike Iupati (triceps), speedy wide receiver John Brown (quadriceps) and tight end Jermaine Gresham (ribs).
Because of all the substitutions and changes to the game plan because of it, Palmer wasn't surprised that the offense struggled right off the bat in Indianapolis the way that it did.
"We were short on a couple personnel groups. We had to change some stuff at the last minute when we realized Jermaine wasn't going to play and we weren't really sure about (tight end) Troy (Niklas)," Palmer said, pointing out Niklas played with a sore hip that left him questionable entering the game.
With Gresham's injury and Niklas being somewhat hobbled, the Cardinals often stuck backup rookie tackle Will Holden at one of the tight-end spots to help block. That also changed the complexion of what the Cardinals' offense usually looks like and affected the play-calling.
"He has probably never done that in his life," Palmer said of Holden. "So there were some just very difficult situations we were in."
During his weekly radio appearance on the team's flagship station, Cardinals general manager Steve Keim said he felt Palmer "played like a lot of the guys on offense; I thought he played up and down."
"There's no doubt he made some critical mistakes," Keim said. "I know Carson, the competitor he is, he's hard on himself. ... But he also made some throws in that game that not many other guys can make. ... In the fourth quarter when we had to have it and come up with big plays, I thought Carson was right on point."
The bottom line in Palmer's eyes was that the Cardinals got a win, even if didn't come with any style points. A 1-1 record is a heck of a lot better than starting off 0-2 and then have the nation's eyes squarely on you this coming on Monday night, when Arizona hosts the Dallas Cowboys.
Iupati and Gresham should both be available for that game, which will help the Cardinals' offense a ton. With that good news on the horizon, Palmer said the offense "is really not a concern."
"Obviously, we'd like more production, more touchdowns," he said. "But I'm not down or concerned."
Running back Chris Johnson, re-signed to the roster after being one of the cuts down to 53, showed burst and speed in Sunday's victory over the Colts that he rarely showed during the preseason. He finished with 44 yards on 11 carries and had a 21-yard gain negated by a penalty.
He's pushing for more time in the backfield, according to head coach Bruce Arians, who went with Kerwynn Williams as his starter in Indianapolis.
"I don't know why (some people) thought I didn't have a burst," Johnson said. "I know the type of player I am. I know how to prepare. I know how to get myself ready for the season and a game. It just felt nice to get out there, make a few plays and help the team win."
"It may not have been the prettiest win, but it's kind of like your high school prom date: doesn't matter if she's pretty as, long as you've got one." - Kicker Phil Dawson after the Cardinals' 16-13 overtime win over the Colts.
With Sunday's 16-13 overtime win at Indianapolis, the Cardinals improved to 33-3-1 when holding opponents under 20 points under head coach Bruce Arians. Arizona is also undefeated in overtime games under Arians, going 3-0-1.
Safety Tyrann Mathieu came up with the play of the game Sunday vs. the Colts, intercepting Jacoby Brissett's pass on the Colts' first play from scrimmage in overtime. The pick set up Phil Dawson's 30-yard, game-winning field goal.
Not only did the Honey Badger intercept Brissett when the quarterback was making his first NFL start, but Mathieu also picked off Brissett when the quarterback was making his first career start at Florida.
"He said, 'Damn, bro, every time I start, who you have to pick me off?'" Mathieu said.
"I don't know," he said. "I don't know why you threw it to me."
After allowing the Colts to score on their first possession of the game, gaining 53 yards and converting on all four third-down situations, the Cardinals' defense stepped up and shut them down for the majority of the game. Indianapolis would only get two field goals and gain 213 more yards.
The difference, according to Cardinals veteran defensive tackle Frostee Rucker?
"Our attitude," Rucker said. "We were out there searching for things to come to us instead of just going to get them. In the second half, we just hunkered down and took the plays and made them count."
Cardinals general manager Steve Keim on newly-signed veteran guard Alex Boone, who was forced into a starting role Sunday against the Colts with Mike Iupati out because of a triceps injury: "The thing I like about Alex is he brings a temperament and a mentality to our front. He's a guy who plays to the whistle and from time to time, even after the whistle."
NOTES: RB David Johnson underwent successful surgery to repair damage in his left wrist, which he injured in Arizona's season opener at Detroit. General Manager Steve Keim said he visited with Johnson and wouldn't be surprised if the third-year pro comes back faster than expected. Johnson is supposed to be sidelined two to three months. ... K Phil Dawson has missed two field goals in his first two games with the Cardinals, including a 42-yard attempt on Sunday that would have won the game at the end of regulation. ... WR J.J. Nelson elevated his game with fellow receiver John Brown not playing because of a quadriceps injury, catching five passes for 120 yards, including a clutch, 45-yard touchdown bomb. It was Nelson's sixth touchdown in his last seven games for the Cardinals and his second this season in as many weeks. ... S Tyrann Mathieu couldn't have picked a better moment for his first interception since Oct. 17 of last season against the Jets. His pick of a Jacoby Brissett pass Sunday on the first play from scrimmage in overtime helped set up Phil Dawson's game-winning field goal.