Carson Palmer made history Sunday, becoming the first NFL quarterback to throw for 4,000 yards in a season for three different teams. It took him three years to get there with Cincinnati and two with Oakland, but he needed only one in Arizona. Imagine what it would have been had the offensive group did not have to assimilate Bruce Arians' system on the fly.

It is the reason Palmer was down but not out after the Cardinals' 20-17 loss to the 49ers that left them at 10-6, their second 10-win season in 37 years.

"This offense is something that can be very dangerous going into Year 2, where everybody has a good feel for the calls and hots (reads) and protections and concepts, where everybody knows every route. ... That's exciting. As much as it stinks to have this feeling right now, I'm excited about the future."

The immediate future seems assured. With his second 400-yard game of the season, Palmer finished with a career-high 4,274 yards in his first season in Arians' pass-oriented system. He threw 24 touchdowns and a career-high 22 interceptions, but 13 of those interceptions came in the first seven games, the anticpated learning period, Arians said. How good is Arian's scheme? Despite another year of experience, Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck passed for 800 fewer yards for the Colts this season, one year removed from Arians.

Palmer was the subject of growing criticism after his slow start, and there was some speculation that it might be time for Drew Stanton to get a chance. That was old thinking, perhaps a product of the past, when the Cardinals ping-ponged between seven quarterbacks from 2000-12 because of injuries and ineffectiveness.

Arians resisted a knee-jerk change in midseason and stuck with Palmer though his ankle and elbow injuries, and with Palmer under contract at $8 million next season, with $2 million of that guaranteed, it appears Arians has found his man, even if he will be playing at age 35 next year.