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Cardinals guard Mike Iupati lands on dubious Week 8 list

Arizona Cardinals guard Mike Iupati (76) lines up in front of quarterback Drew Stanton (5) against the San Francisco 49ers during an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Thursday, Oct. 6, 2016. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

The last few games have been full of ups and downs for the Arizona Cardinals’ offensive line.

In wins over the San Francisco 49ers and New York Jets and a tie with the Seattle Seahawks, the big boys up front did a commendable job.

That wasn’t the case Sunday in a 30-20 road loss to the Carolina Panthers.

Quarterback Carson Palmer was sacked eight times and pressured on a number other occasions. Arizona’s running game, which had been very productive, only averaged 2.4 yards on 10 carries in the loss.

Head coach Bruce Arians has never been one to mince words, and he let a few members of his offensive line know how they played in Charlotte.

“To play the way we did up front, offensively, there’s no excuse for it,” Arians told Bickley and Marotta Monday on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. “Poor technique, too many mental errors and way too many penalties.

“It was a very poor performance by our offensive line.”

Guards Mike Iupati and Earl Watford and tackle D.J. Humphries struggled against a hungry Carolina defense, giving up four of the Panthers’ eight sacks and combining for five penalties that set the Cardinals back 45 yards.

Pro Football Focus planted Iupati on their 10 worst players list from Week 8, placing the veteran at No. 5.

Iupati has actually been unusually good this season in pass protection – usually his weak area. Coming into the game against Carolina he had allowed just one sack across six games, no hits and seven total pressures. Against the Panthers, however, and versus Kawann Short in particular, he surrendered two sacks an six total pressures while being flagged three times (he had just two penalties heading into the game). Effectively he was worse in this loss than he had been in all of his gross negative play in the six games before it.

As PFF pointed out, this game has been the outlier for Iupati, who has played well through injury this season. The 29-year-old missed a Week 6 win over the Jets with an ankle injury, but came back to play 94 of 95 offensive snaps in a physical game against Seattle.

The Cardinals are in their bye week and return to action Sunday, Nov. 13 when they host the San Francisco 49ers at University of Phoenix Stadium.

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