Week 5 Game Recap: Carolina Panthers 24, Arizona Cardinals 20
What you need to know
Carolina fell down early in this game, but came up with big plays at opportune moments to come from behind and knock off the Arizona Cardinals on the road. After trailing for almost the entire day, Jake Delhomme commanded the troops down the field for a ten play, 94 yard drive to go ahead 24-20 with 6:54 remaining in the game. Delhomme looked to his playmaker Steve Smith time and time again, and finished with 243 passing yards and two touchdowns on 18 completions and 29 attempts to lead the Panthers to victory.
Steve Smith caught both touchdown passes, including a screen pass that he took 65 yards for a touchdown. Smith finished the day with eight catches for 119 yards. The remainder of Delhomme’s passes to wide receivers were evenly split with amongst Kerry Colbert (zero catches), Ricky Proehl (one catch for 11 yards) and Rod Gardner (three catches for 33 yards) with three targets a piece. Before leaving the game with an undisclosed injury, Kris Mangum pulled in three balls for 31 yards. DeShaun Foster caught two balls out of the backfield for 47 yards, but fumbled the ball away after one of his catches.
The Panthers had limited success in running the ball, but the balanced approach helped to keep the Cardinals off balance enough to set up big plays through the air. Stephen Davis finished the day with 18 carries for 46 yards and a one yard touchdown plunge. DeShaun Foster served as a nice change of pace back, and receiver out of the backfield, and picked up 42 yards on 8 carries.
Josh McCown and the receiving corps put up huge passing numbers on the day, however costly turnovers ruined what could have been even bigger days for the Arizona passing game. McCown finished with 394 yards and two touchdowns, but three costly interceptions were the difference between winning and losing this game. McCown finished the day with 29 completions on 46 attempts.
Both Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald put up monster days, each scoring a touchdown and eclipsing the 100 yard mark before halftime, and both received eighteen targets. Boldin finished the day with ten catches for 158 yards and a touchdown, while Fitzgerald caught nine balls for 136 yards and a touchdown. Bryant Johnson and Charles Lee were not as active in this game as they had been in previous games, whereby Johnson caught two balls for nine yards, and Lee had one long catch for 49 yards. Adam Bergen was the only tight end to be targeted (once) all afternoon, but did not catch a pass. McCown threw nine passes to his running backs, with Obafemi Ayanbadejo being the primary benefactor with four catches for 24 yards. Marcel Shipp caught two balls for six yards and JJ Arrington had one catch for twelve yards.
The leading rusher for the Cardinals was Josh McCown, who picked up 29 yards on five scrambles. Neither Marcel Shipp nor J.J. Arrington was as successful in advancing the ball. Shipp finished with 22 yards on thirteen carries, while Arrington had 14 yards on four carries. Interestingly, the Cardinals used Anquan Boldin out of the backfield, and got him involved in aspects of the rushing game, whereby he picked up seven yards on three attempts.
What you ought to know
|QB Jake Delhomme, Pass: 18 - 29 - 243 - 2 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 1 - -1 - 0|
Delhomme made all of the necessary plays at the right time, and finished with a 97.3 passer rating on the day by completing 62% of his passes. Big plays after the catch by Steve Smith helped to build an 8.4 yards per attempt average. Delhomme had one early interception which was not his fault, but showed true leadership in bringing his team back.
Davis did not have a great day statistically, averaging just 2.6 yards per carry, but had a nice one yard plunge for a touchdown immediately following a costly Arizona turnover. Davis accumulated most his yardage in the second half, where he gained 39 yards on thirteen carries. Davis’ thirteen carries in the second half outpaced his counterpart DeShaun Foster, who had only three carries after they had each received five attempts in the first half.
Foster broke off a couple of nice runs early, and caught a couple of balls, but lost a fumble in the first half, and was used more sparingly in the second half. He provides a change of pace to Stephen Davis, but the Panthers made it clear who was their primary back when the game was on the line.
Smith provided a huge spark to the team when he took a screen pass 65 yards for a touchdown, and later added a four yard catch for a second touchdown. Smith is clearly the playmaker on this team, and the guy Delhomme looks to when he is in trouble, as Smith always seems to find a way to create separation with his speed in running routes and especially after the catch.
Gardner made the most of his opportunities, making three nice catches, and the argument for increased playing time based upon both his performance and talent.
Proehl played a lesser role in the offense with Rod Gardner being active in this game, and caught just one pass.
Colbert did not catch a pass on the day and was responsible for the interception by Delhomme in the first half.
Mangum left with an undisclosed injury, but caught all three passes over the middle before departing.
Kasay made a 46 yarder, but was unable to convert on 53 and 62 yard attempts. It appeared he had enough leg for both attempts in the warm Arizona air, but missed wide left on both occasions.
The Panthers’ rush defense shut down the Arizona running game, although the alternative was having to deal with McCown, Boldin and Fitzgerald through the air. Discounting Josh McCown’s scrambling yardage, and a couple of trick plays by Anquan Boldin and Bryant Johnson, the Arizona backs combined for 18 carries and 36 yards.
Had it not been for a couple of key turnovers, this would have gone down as a miserable day for the Panthers’ secondary, allowing 394 yards through the air and only causing one sack. However, three interceptions and one fumble recovery vindicated the unit and with the help of long drives by the offense, keyed the team to victory.
|QB Josh McCown, Pass: 29 - 46 - 394 - 2 TD / 3 INT, Rush: 5 - 29 - 0|
Following McCown’s performance against the Panthers, Dennis Green cautiously endorsed McCown as the starter following Arizona’s bye in Week 6, but did make note of the huge numbers Josh had put up. Three costly interceptions kept the Cardinals from winning and was the reason that McCown only put up a passer rating of 77.6 on the day, despite averaging 8.6 yards per pass attempt. McCown appeared to lock in on various receivers throughout the day, and forced the ball in situations where it was not necessary.
|RB Marcel Shipp, Rush: 13 - 22 - 0, Rec: 2 - 6 - 0 (3 targets)|
Shipp was in the backfield to open the game, and saw thirteen carries to J.J. Arrington’s four, but was no more productive with them than the rookie, averaging just 1.7 yards per carry. The Cardinals spent much of the day passing the ball, even though they had the lead, which speaks volumes about they think of their running game.
After the opening handoff went to Marcel Shipp, Arrington came into the game, and saw two rushes on the opening drive, leading one to believe he may be featured more so in this game, but he saw just two more carries the rest of the day. Dennis Green appeared to prefer Shipp out of the backfield for pass protection and receiving duties.
|WR Anquan Boldin, Rush: 3 - 7 - 0, Rec: 10 - 158 - 1 (18 targets)|
Boldin made a very nice touchdown grab, and combined for 165 yards on thirteen touches, but it was his fumble inside the Arizona five yard line that ultimately cost the Cardinals the game. Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald both went through stretches in the game where it seemed they were the only wide receiver whom Josh McCown was targeting.
Fitzgerald nearly matched his teammate Anquan Boldin’s numbers, but was also the intended recipient of two of McCown’s interceptions. Neither was specifically his fault, but was more a negative effect of his success, as McCown forced balls into coverage.
Johnson played a lesser role in this game with Josh McCown than in previous games where Kurt Warner had done a better job of spreading the ball around.
Johnson opened the game in the starting lineup, but was not targeted all day, as Josh McCown spent most of it looking downfield. No Cardinal tight end caught a pass against the Panthers.
Rackers connected successfully on field goals of 39 and 49 to keep his streak of perfection going, however, interestingly, the Cardinals bypassed multiple opportunities to give the strong legged kicker a chance to add on to his huge season. On fourth and one from the Panthers 35 on the opening drive, the Cardinals opted against a 52 yard field goal attempt, and instead failed to convert on fourth down. Given another chance late in the game, trailing 24-20 with three timeouts and the two-minute warning, the Cardinals went for it on fourth and six from the 33 (which would have set up a 50 yard field goal), and McCown threw an interception in the end zone.
The Cardinals kept both Stephen Davis and DeShaun Foster from putting up big numbers, and even stopped them when they needed to late in the fourth quarter to get the ball back, but were at times dominated at the line of scrimmage.
The Cardinals could not find a solution to keep Steve Smith from adding huge totals after the catch, and could not come up with the same big plays their opponents were, as they were unable to put any pressure on the quarterback. The Cardinals played a bend but don’t break defense, and Jake Delhomme took what he was being given all day long, causing a 20-10 Cardinals lead midway through the third quarter evaporate.