Patrick Peterson on Panthers: ‘We owe ’em’
Odds are Patrick Peterson is not the only Arizona Cardinal who feels this way about the Carolina Panthers.
He just happened to be the one who was asked about them Thursday morning by Doug and Wolf on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.
“We owe ’em,” he said. “We owe those guys. The first time they got us without our best shot, the second time they got us with us fully-loaded.”
Peterson, of course, is referring to the Cardinals’ last two playoff exits, both of which came courtesy of the Panthers in North Carolina.
In 2014, the injury-ravaged Cardinals went into Charlotte with Ryan Lindley as their starting quarterback, and fell to a seven-win Panthers team by a score of 27-16. That day, the Cardinals set an NFL record for fewest yards in a postseason game, with 78.
Things were supposed to be different last season, though, as the Cardinals once again visited the Panthers only this time with a mostly-healthy roster and with a berth in Super Bowl 50 on the line. It did not take long for things to go sideways, however, as the Cardinals went down 17-0 in the first quarter, trailed 24-7 at halftime and eventually lost 49-15.
The first loss, while disappointing, was sort of expected. The second defeat, at least in terms of how it happened, came out of nowhere.
“I don’t know how this happened, but all the five-star players did not play their best,” Peterson said. “And that’s unusual, for every top guy on your team to not play their best football.
“I think a lot of it was once we got down, that 17-point deficit, a lot of guys started to press; a lot of guys felt that they needed to make a play to get us back in the game.”
Peterson included himself in that group, pointing to a muffed punt in the second quarter. Trailing 17-7 but having built a little momentum after following their first touchdown by forcing a three-and-out from the Panthers, he raced toward mid-field trying to catch the ball while on the run with hopes of turning it into a big return.
Instead, he overran the ball some, it bounced off his shoulder and then was recovered by Carolina’s Teddy Williams. Six plays later the Panthers were in the end zone, making the score a less-doable 24-7.
“That punt return, I believe if I would have just fair caught the ball, and gave the offense back the possession right there — I believe it was at the 50 — that could have got things going,” he said. “And the next drive (after Carolina’s touchdown) I end up getting an interception; who knows if that would have happened or not, but now it’s a 10-point game and those guys were known for giving up leads, and that still was in the first half.
“So I just believe a lot of guys were just pressing once we dug ourselves in that deep hole, but at the end of the day this team is so ready to get 2016 kicked off. I believe we’re a much better all-around football team than we were last year, and we can’t wait to see where it takes us.”