GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Indianapolis Colts propelled Bruce Arians into coaching prominence.
On Sunday, as head coach in Arizona, his Cardinals embarrassed his former team.
Carson Palmer threw two touchdown passes to Larry Fitzgerald, Karlos Dansby returned an interception 22 yards for a score and the Cardinals won their fourth in a row with a 40-11 rout of the Colts.
“We expect to dominate like this all the time,” Dansby said. “We just finally put it together as a unit. We’re starting to believe in each other and trust one another and we’re making plays all around.”
Arians became interim head coach of the Colts last season when Chuck Pagano was stricken with leukemia. Indianapolis went 9-3 under Arians, earning him coach of the year honors and a head coaching job in the desert.
Now the 61-year-old coach is doing the same kind of job with the Cardinals (7-4).
“The emotions of this game were gone way before kickoff,” Arians said. “I saw a lot of friends, a lot of dear guys on that team. But once the whistle blows, it’s just you and your brother in the backyard.”
And Arizona was the big brother in this one.
“I think this was a respect game,” Palmer said. “I don’t think we’re well-respected throughout the league and that’s not anybody’s fault but our own.
“But I think we’re better than people think and when you beat a good team, and a team that’s beat good teams, it ups your respect among your peers and throughout the league.”
Fitzgerald caught five passes for 52 yards, becoming the youngest player in NFL history to reach 11,000 yards receiving.
Arizona’s Michael Floyd had his second straight 100-yard receiving day with seven catches for 104 yards for the Cardinals (7-4).
Andrew Luck threw for 163 yards, but had only 84 through three quarters as the Colts (7-4) fell behind 34-3. It’s a familiar pattern.
In their past four games, the Colts have been outscored in the first half 93-12.
“There is blood in the water right now,” Pagano said. “Until you get it fixed they are going to keep coming at us. It is the same thing week in and week out on both sides of the ball and on special teams. … They are going to keep coming at you until we put out the fire. “
The Colts still have a solid lead in the AFC South.
“I don’t know if I can big picture it right now coming off the field after we getting our butts beat like that. It is hard to,” Luck said. “I guess we are sitting at 7-4, but I don’t know what that means either.”
Jay Feely kicked four field goals in Arizona’s highest-scoring game in three years, including a 21-yarder in the final minutes with the outcome long decided.
Palmer, coming off a 419-yard passing performance against Jacksonville, completed 26 of 37 for 314 yards and, for the second week in a row, threw no interceptions.
The Colts’ touchdown came on Luck’s 17-yard pass to Coby Fleener with 10:26 to play.
Palmer threw touchdown passes to Fitzgerald of 4 and 26 yards, then Dansby — who had been kidded by his teammates for dropping a few potential interceptions this season — picked off Luck’s pass and returned it for a touchdown as the Cardinals blew open a 27-3 halftime lead.
Arizona took the opening kickoff and went 80 yards in 10 plays, Palmer hitting Fitzgerald with a 4-yard fade pass for the touchdown. The Cardinals had no third downs on the drive.
Arizona had a chance to lengthen the lead but the drive stalled at the Colts 10, then Sergio Brown blocked Feely’s 28-yard field goal attempt. It ended a string of 17 consecutive field goals for the Arizona kicker.
Adam Vinatieri kicked a 27-yard field goal to cut it to 7-3 with 1:15 left in the first quarter.
But Arizona’s offense got it rolling again. Palmer connected with Floyd for 29 yards to the Indianapolis 26.
On the next play, Palmer, hit as he threw, lofted a pass to the end zone, where Fitzgerald beat two defenders to make the catch for the score to make it 14-3 with 13:29 left in the half.
Moments later, Luck, under pressure from Darnell Dockett, threw toward Fleener. But Dansby stepped in front of the tight end, intercepted and returned it 22 yards for the touchdown to put Arizona up 24-3 with 7:55 left in the second quarter.
It was Dansby’s first touchdown since his 17-yard fumble return in overtime ended the Cardinals’ 51-45 wild-card playoff victory over Green Bay on Jan. 10, 2010.
Notes: Through three quarters, the Cardinals had 346 yards to the Colts’ 96. … Fitzgerald is 30 years, 85 days. Randy Moss had been the youngest to reach 11,000 at 30 years, 222 days. … Colts cornerback Vontae Davis left the game with a groin injury. … Arizona hasn’t scored this many points since a 43-13 win over Denver on Dec. 10, 2010.