Cardinals defense gets run over early in Carolina, never recovers in loss
The Arizona Cardinals got off to a terrible start on Sunday against the Carolina Panthers and never bounced back from it in a 31-21 loss.
The Panthers offense cruised to 160 total yards and 14 points through two drives, putting the Cardinals in an early 14-0 hole late in the first quarter.
And this wasn’t an absolute clinic of execution by the Panthers, either. Arizona failed to close up shop on third down in both drives.
In the opening for Carolina, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater on 3rd-and-19 found tight end Chris Manhertz for 17 yards. That allowed the Panthers to go for it, and Cardinals defensive lineman Zach Allen got fooled on a designed run for Bridgewater that produced the first down.
On the next set of downs, Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson got beat by Panthers wideout D.J. Moore on 3rd-and-10 for another Carolina first down, and the 13-play, 66-yard drive ended in a one-yard touchdown run by Mike Davis.
After a three-and-out by the Arizona defense, Bridgewater found Moore again, this time for 23 yards with plenty of space from Cardinals corner Byron Murphy.
Carolina quickly got back in the red zone, and on 3rd-and-8, Bridgewater scrambled past missed tackles by the Cardinals for an 18-yard touchdown.
— NFL (@NFL) October 4, 2020
The Panthers were 4-for-5 on third down through two drives.
On the other end of the field, Arizona had 19 yards on eight total plays. Kyler Murray had a bad overthrow of Larry Fitzgerald, while Andy Isabella dropped a deep ball by Murray that could have been a touchdown if the two were more in-sync.
The next drive following Carolina’s 14-0 lead, the Cardinals went only 15 yards on five plays before punting for the third straight drive to open the season.
Peterson intercepted Bridgewater on the next Carolina drive, giving Arizona its first grasp of any momentum in the game. After a Murray touchdown pass put Arizona on the board, the Panthers quickly answered with another touchdown drive to put them up 21-7 at halftime.
As was the case in the first half, neither the offense or the defense got anything going in the closing 30 minutes.
Carolina’s three-and-out to open the second half was followed by a Murray fumble, and the ensuing drive for the Panthers went 74 yards, ending in a touchdown. That effectively closed out the game at 28-7 midway through the third quarter, and despite the Cardinals scoring on the next drive via a Murray touchdown throw to Christian Kirk, Arizona never came close to threatening.
The Cardinals allowed 444 yards and gained only 262.