OAKLAND -- Carson Palmer appeared to need some oil in his joints in the beginning.He found a groove in the middle.He looked out of sorts in the end.The new Raiders quarterback had many peaks -- Palmer threw three touchdown passes with a deft touch not seen in these parts in many years -- and just as many valleys -- he was also picked off three times, and could have been intercepted at least twice more.
So Palmer's self-evaluation after the Raiders were kicked in the teeth by the Denver Broncos, 38-24, on Sunday?"There's still some things I'm a little bit off on, Im a little bit rusty on," Palmer admitted. "Still some things I'm not just quite comfortable with. But that's what I expected. I mean, I didn't expect to come in this week and just go 100 percent, ready to rock n roll with everything."It's kind of par for the course with where I am in this offense and in this system. But at the end of the day you either win or you lose, and you play well enough to put your team in position to win or you don't, and I didn't."Palmer had a 79.7 passer rating after throwing for 332 yards in completing 19 of 35 passes.He became only the fourth quarterback in franchise history to throw at least three touchdowns in his first start with the Raiders, joining George Blanda, who threw four TDs in 1968 at Denver, Todd Marinovich, who had three in Los Angeles against Kansas City in 1991, and Jeff George, who did it in 1997 at Tennessee. Only Blanda won his game.Then, the valley. Palmer joined Daryle Lamonica (1967 and 1969), Ken Stabler (1975 and 1978), Dan Pastorini (1980), Marc Wilson (1981), Jay Schroeder (1988) and Kerry Collins (2004) as the only Raiders QBs with at least three interceptions in consecutive games."Carson knows how to throw the ball," said coach Hue Jackson. "But like I said, I'm going to be very hard on him because I know what's in there. I know what kind of player he is. What we have to do is make sure we don't give it to the other team."Palmer seemed oddly comfortable throwing the ball to Denarius Moore, targeting him 12 times but connecting only four times with the rookie.Jacoby Ford, meanwhile, pulled in five passes for 105 yards, including an acrobatic 18-yard touchdown catch midway through the third quarter that gave the Raiders a seemingly safe 24-14 lead."I think he did good," Ford said of Palmer. "He definitely takes chances and we love that in a quarterback. We'll get better from here. I know it."Perhaps Palmer's most impressive pass of the day, though, was the 40-yard rope he threw to fullback Marcel Reece down the middle of the field for a touchdown. Palmer threaded the needle and put the ball where only Reece, with D.J. Williams draped all over him, could get it."Carson saw my eyes, I saw his eyes and he put the ball up and I went and got it," Reece said."Carson threw a great ball and I went for it."But it was Palmer's second interception that turned momentum in favor of the Broncos.Leading 24-17 and facing a 3rd-and-11 at the Denver 43-yard line, Palmer spied Moore going across the middle, from right to left some 15 yards downfield. But Palmer's pass was high and Moore tipped it into the waiting arms of cornerback Chris Harris, who returned the interception to the Broncos' 40-yard line."I want (that pass) back," Palmer said. "That was a miscue. I was on the wrong page with the receiver. Just something that we need to keep repping, keep working, and get a feel for body language on that route, and timing of that route, because I was off on that."One play later, Willis McGahee burst up the middle for a game-tying 60-yard touchdown run.Two possessions later, and after a pair of three-and-outs by the Raiders, the rout was on when Eddie Royal went 85 yards for a score on a punt return.No one with a clear head will say the loss rests on Palmer's in-need-of-WD-40-shoulders. Not when he put up some solid personal numbers, interceptions aside. Just don't tell that to Palmer."I didn't play well enough to give our team a chance to win," Palmer said. "It doesn't matter, statistics don't matter. At the end of the day, nothing matters but whether we won or lost. It wasn't good enough."