Found October 07, 2013 on
Sports Report Arizona:
Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles received a shiny new toy just in time to face quarterback Cam Newton and the Panthers offense. That new toy was Daryl Washington, fresh off his 4 game suspension to start the season. Washington’s impact was swift and noticeable. In a must win for the Arizona Cardinals, the defense stood up and took control of the game, powering its way to a 22-6 victory over the Panthers.
The box scores can be deceiving at times. Sunday was no different as Newton threw for over 300 yards while the Panthers offense finished with more yards than the Cardinals offense. However, turnovers and points off of those turnovers were the true barometer of this game. The Cardinals defense applied constant pressure with various blitzes and some stellar play by the defensive line to the tune of 7 sacks, one of which was for a safety by Calais Campbell.
The pressure resulted in some mistakes by Newton in the form of 3 interceptions and a lost fumble. The returning Washington got a big interception on Newton with the Panthers driving early in the 4th quarter and threatening to score a touchdown to take the lead. Washington burst into the passing lane, in front of intended receiver Steve Smith and returned the ball 41 yards to midfield. The play was indicative of the impact Washington had on the defense. He finished with 8 tackles, 2 sacks and the lone interception. It was domination on the defensive end. Cornerback Patrick Peterson effectively shut down Smith on the day. Smith finished with just 4 receptions for 60 yards. The Panthers offense was kept out of the end zone all day.
The Cardinals offense didn’t do very much throughout the game but was able to provide just enough points to get the victory. Quarterback Carson Palmer continued to struggle as he went 19-28 for 175 yards including a touchdown but 3 interceptions. The first two interceptions came when the offense was driving and looked poised to score. Palmer seems to be unable to see the field well and continually throws into coverage, often forcing the ball into tight spots. Luckily for the offense, coach Bruce Arians decided to help his defense by playing more of a ground based style on Sunday. Starting running back Rashard Mendenhall carried 17 times on the day, scoring a 1 yard touchdown to take the lead they would never relinquish. The offense ran the ball the same number of times they threw it on the day (28) which provided just enough balance for the defense to get rest and put the Panthers offense in long drive type situations. The Cardinals running game turned in just 90 yards on the 28 carries but did well enough in the red zone to score 14 points.
The Cardinals finished the game going 2 for 3 in the red zone while the Panthers went 0 for 3. That was the ultimate difference in the ball game. The Cardinals rode a suffocating defense and a manageable offense to victory. It was the type of balance which has been missing through most of the season and something the team must make a constant moving forward.
The Cardinals now sit at 3-2 and second in the NFC West, tied with the 49ers and just a game out of first place. Arizona travels to San Francisco this week to take on the 49ers on Sunday.
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