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Opponent Aftermath: Carolina back on track after taking down Cardinals

Carolina Panthers' Cam Newton (1) runs against the Arizona Cardinals in the second half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Oct. 30, 2016. (AP Photo/Bob Leverone)

Is it possible that the Arizona Cardinals represent a “get right” game for struggling NFL opponents?

Heading into Week 3, Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan said the Cardinals — the next foe on his 0-2 team’s schedule — represented what his team needed to face.

“It might be the best team in the league, and maybe this is the exact team we need to play,” he said.

The Bills went on to destroy the Cardinals 33-18, the first of four straight wins.

The Carolina Panthers, the defending NFC Champions, found themselves in dire straits following their bye week. At 1-5, Ron Rivera’s team needed a win to salvage their season.

Like Buffalo before them, they got one. The Panthers, fueled by a dominant defensive line performance, jumped out to a 24-0 lead and hung on for a 30-20 win, snapping a four-game losing streak.

All last week, we let you in on the Carolina perspective as the Panthers got ready to host the Cardinals. Now, you can see what those in Charlotte are saying about the win.

It’s Opponent Aftermath …


Carolina Panthers find a quick way to get Cam Newton, offense rolling vs. Arizona (Charlotte Observer)

So it was no surprise that, in the 30-20 victory Sunday at Bank of America Stadium, the Carolina offense let the quick passes fly. In fact, Newton’s longest pass through the air was a 16-yarder down the seam to receiver Ted Ginn Jr. The other chunk (15-plus yards) pass plays were all of the catch-and-run variety.

Carolina Panthers report card vs. Arizona Cardinals (Charlotte Observer)

Grading the Carolina Panthers for Sunday’s game against Arizona.

B Quarterback: Cam Newton played a solid game, then blasted NFL game officials for non-calls or hits he sees as late or illegal. Newton passed for 212 yards and ran for 43. While he didn’t account for a touchdown, he showed toughness. Calais Campbell’s low hit might have injured a weaker QB.

Status of injured Panthers starters Kalil, Thompson up to doctors (Charlotte Observer)

The Panthers lost two starters to injury Sunday, with center Ryan Kalil and outside linebacker Shaq Thompson leaving during the second quarter of the 30-20 win against Arizona.

Kalil injured his right shoulder and Thompson went down with a right knee injury. Coach Ron Rivera said early indications were that both players sustained sprains.

Anemic through 6 games, Carolina Panthers’ pass rush trends upward vs. Arizona (Charlotte Observer)

The Carolina Panthers’ front four was the team’s punching bag through the first six games, beaten up publicly for an anemic pass rush that exposed a young and inexperienced cornerback group.

The defensive linemen turned the tables Sunday, giving Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer the full piñata treatment in Carolina’s 30-20 victory against the Cardinals.

Cam Newton deserves the same treatment as other quarterbacks (ESPN.com)

Pressure is one thing. Hits that could end a season, possibly a career, are another — particularly if they are hits that should be penalized.

That was Newton’s stance following a win he and the Panthers (2-5) hope will turn their season around. He tried to brush it off initially when asked if he was surprised officials didn’t penalize the Cardinals for a below-the-knees hit he took in the third quarter.

“I’m speechless,” he said. “But next question.”

Cam Newton blasts officials for ‘taking the fun out of the game’ (ESPN.com)

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton said Sunday that he plans to take his grievance with no-calls on late hits to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

“It’s really taking the fun out of the game for me — honestly, it really is,” Newton said. “At times, I don’t even feel safe. Enough is enough. I plan on talking to commissioner Goodell about this. It’s not fun, and I don’t know what I have to do.”

Panthers recapture their form (Panthers.com)

Now that’s what we’ve been waiting for.

The Carolina Panthers posted the kind of performance Sunday that became routine in 2015, the kind of performance that many expected to again be the norm in 2016.

Leonard Johnson dazzles in debut (Panthers.com)

He went from cheerleader to major contributor overnight, recording eight tackles – including a sack – to help a Panthers secondary that had struggled during a four-game losing streak play a positive role in Carolina’s 30-20 victory.

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