Well, CaroPanFans, this was an ugly ending to a pretty good season. The Carolina Panthers lost, 33-13, to the Arizona Cardinals, in Charlotte, at Bank of America Stadium. The previously unbeaten at home Panthers never had a chance after Jonathan Stewart’s touchdown on their opening drive. Jake Delhomme threw 5 interceptions, and lost one fumble, and the defense gave up 33 points. There really is not much else to say about the Panthers’ first home playoff loss in franchise history.
This really was not a surprise; the defense ran out of gas a while ago. The running game had hit it’s stride, but there just were not enough consistent weapons in the passing game.
Furthermore, Arizona has had to hear how bad they were, the worst team to ever be in the playoffs actually, for more than two weeks now. These are men with heart and pride, and the underdog role suits them, obviously. Not too unlike the Carolina Panthers of 2003.
The story unfortunately begins and ends with Jake Delhomme’s six turnovers. He is usually one of the best when it comes to pressure and the playoffs; everyone is allowed to have an off night, but the timing is horrific. All on his 34th birthday, to boot. Steve Smith did not see a catch until the waning moments of the third quarter, and scored a meaningless touchdown near the end of the game. DeAngelo Williams was held to 63 yards on 12 carries, and Jonathan Stewart with 3 attempts for 12 yards.
All-Pro middle linebacker Jon Beason had an interception of Kurt Warner, but most unfortunately ran into teammate Landon Johnson on a tackle, who left the game with a hip injury. That oddly sounds like good news, for the injury looked far more gruesome when it happened.
Kurt Warner of the Cardinals finished the game with 220 yards and 2 touchdowns; the absence of Anquan Boldin wasn’t even felt for Arizona, as Larry Fitzgerald torched the Panthers for 166 yards on 8 receptions. Tim Hightower ran for a respectable 76 yards, and Edgerrin James garnered 57 of his own.
This unceremonious end to such a promising season is certainly not what the Panthers were expecting… but, as John Fox likes to remind us, “It is what it is.”