For just the second time this season, Panthers fans got to leave happy, as the team took out frustration for what has been a terrible 2010 season by thumping the slumping Arizona Cardinals 19-12 at Bank of America Stadium.
Panthers rookie QB Jimmy Clausen won his first game and John Kasay kicked four field goals in the win for John Fox, which could be his last as coach if the team decides to go in another direction in 2011.
Clausen, the 48th pick in this year’s draft out of Notre Dame, went 13-for-19 with 141 yards and a touchdown pass to help the Panthers (2-12) snap a seven-game losing streak. Jonathan Stewart ran for 137 yards on 27 carries, while Jeff King caught the touchdown pass.
Stewart’s 35-yard run on Carolina’s first play from scrimmage set up Kasay’s 28-yard field goal about four and a half minutes into the contest.
After an Arizona punt, which saw Carolina pinned at its own nine-yard line, the Panthers went 80 yards in 14 plays, but again had to settle for three points on Kasay’s 29-yard boot for a 6-0 lead in the final moments of the first quarter.
Skelton was picked off by Sherrod Martin deep in Arizona territory, and the next play saw Clausen hit King on a 16-yard score for a 13-0 lead with 8:42 left in the half.
Jay Feely hit a 23-yard field goal with just 36 seconds left in the first half to get Arizona on the board.
Arizona attempted an onsides kick to start the second half, but it didn’t work and Carolina used the short field to take a 16-3 lead on a 24-yard field goal from Kasay.
Kasay connected on his fourth field goal of the game from 43 yards out with 27 seconds left in the third quarter for a 19-3 lead.
Arizona finally got in the end zone with a seven-play, 74-yard drive that saw Breaston jump on a fumble by Hightower in the end zone. The two-point conversion failed and it was a 19-9 game with 5:41 to play.
Feely’s 30-yard field goal in the final minute made it a one-score contest, but Carolina recovered the onsides kick and ran out the clock.
John Skelton threw for 196 yards on 17-of-33 passing with an interception as the Cardinals (4-10) failed to build on last weeks 43-13 dismantling of Denver and lost for the eighth time in nine games. Steven Breaston scored the lone Arizona touchdown when he recovered a Tim Hightower fumble in the end zone late in the game.
The Panthers are back in action Thursday night when they travel to play the Steelers in Pittsburgh.