“After about five minutes I realised I’d picked the wrong team,” Pardew told reporters.
“I didn’t think the balance of the team was very good.
“Norwich were brilliant in the first 20 minutes, should’ve gone ahead, we were lucky to stay in the game at that point.”
But as the home side squandered chance after chance, Palace eventually found their feet and went 1-0 up through Wilfried Zaha’s acrobatic volley six minutes before halftime.
Shortly after the break, Pardew’s side doubled their lead when Damien Delaney netted his first goal in 15 months.
Norwich, back in the top flight after a season in the Championship, pulled a goal back in the 69th minute through Nathan Redmond and thought they had equalised five minutes later when Cameron Jerome hooked home an overhead kick.
However, referee Simon Hooper disallowed the goal for dangerous play.
Palace made the game safe in stoppage time when Yohan Cabaye, who signed for a club record 10 million pounds from Paris St Germain last month, raced onto James McArthur’s through ball to slot home past Canaries goalkeeper John Ruddy.
Pardew, who has now won 11 of 19 Premier League games since taking over, said he understood Norwich’s frustration at the disallowed goal and said the 3-1 scoreline “flattered” his side.
“We scored with the last kick of the game, there’s no doubt that flattered us,” he said.
While Pardew’s arrival has given Crystal Palace a new lease on life, the manager said Saturday’s victory had been down to the players.
“Sometimes, as a manager, your players have to get you out of jail as well. I thanked them at the end for that.”
French midfielder Cabaye, who played under Pardew at Newcastle, said getting three points on the board was crucial with games against Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City coming up in the coming weeks.
“Three points for me is the best way to start the season because after this we have some big games so it was important to get the points today,” he told the club’s website.
“I think we can do better than today, we have to keep hold of the ball better but it’s the start of the new season and we have plenty of time to play together.
“We know that we have a tough start and for me we’re going to have to be ready next week.”
Crystal Palace welcome Arsenal to Selhurst Park next Sunday.
(Writing by Peter Rutherford; Editing by Greg Stutchbury)