ARIZONA CARDINALS

Big Red Recap: History repeats itself for Cardinals in Carolina

Oct 30, 2016, 2:33 PM | Updated: 2:36 pm
Carolina Panthers' Cam Newton (1) objects to a late hit by Arizona Cardinals' Markus Golden (44) in...

Carolina Panthers' Cam Newton (1) objects to a late hit by Arizona Cardinals' Markus Golden (44) in the second half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Oct. 30, 2016. (AP Photo/Bob Leverone)

(AP Photo/Bob Leverone)

So, history does repeat itself; over and over and over again for the Arizona Cardinals.

They dropped their third straight visit to Carolina, losing 30-20 in a game that really wasn’t as close as the final score indicated.

The Panthers, who ended the Cardinals’ playoff runs in each of the past two seasons, scored on four of their five first-half possessions to jump out to a 24-0 lead late in the second quarter.

Twice Jonathan Stewart rushed for touchdowns. He finished with 95 yards on 25 carries to help Carolina (2-5) snap a four-game losing streak.

After digging themselves a hole, the Cardinals (3-4-1) responded by outscoring the Panthers 20-6 behind three Carson Palmer touchdowns, two to J.J. Nelson.

The rally, however, fell short, stopped when Palmer was intercepted by Kony Ealy with a 10-point hole and just three minutes remaining in the game.

Palmer, who also fumbled which resulted in a Panthers touchdown, went 35-of-46 for 363 yards.

David Johnson once again topped 100 yards from scrimmage. He totaled 108 yards, though only 24 rushing yards, ending his run of three consecutive 100-yard games.

The Cardinals committed a season-high 10 penalties.

THE GOOD

Wasting little time, the Cardinals’ first play from scrimmage was a nine-yard pass to Larry Fitzgerald, extending his streak with at least one reception to 187 consecutive games. It’s the fourth-longest such streak in NFL history. By the way, Fitzgerald played in his 194th regular season game. Only three Cardinals have suited up more times: Jim Bakken (234), Jim Hart (199) and Jackie Smith (198).

With injuries affecting the depth in the wide receiver room, Nelson stepped up for the second straight week. On the Cardinals’ final possession of the first half, he caught back-to-back passes; the latter of which went for five yards and a touchdown, capping a nine-play, 75-yard drive in 2:25 to make the score 24-7 Carolina with 20 seconds remaining before halftime. Nelson had two catches for 12 yards at halftime.

Twice on their third-quarter scoring drive, the Cardinals converted on third down, or once more than they did in the entire first half. It was John Brown who moved the sticks both times. He caught a 13-yard pass on 3rd-and-8 and then a 17-yard pass on 3rd-and-7; the latter of which went for a touchdown, capping a 10-play, 75-yard drive in 5:33 to make the score 30-14 Carolina at the 1:45 mark.

Sunday marked another move up the NFL’s all-time receptions and receiving yardage lists for Fitzgerald. He now stands seventh all-time in receptions and 12th in receiving yards. The latter, which helped Fitzgerald jump past Cris Carter, came during the Cardinals’ fourth-quarter scoring drive. Nelson caught a four-yard touchdown. The two-point conversion failed, making the score 30-20 Carolina at the 5:01 mark.

THE BAD

Just an awful start for the Cardinals. On their first possession, facing a 3rd-and-6, Palmer fumbled. It was picked up by Thomas Davis and returned 46 yards for a touchdown, handing Carolina a 7-0 lead just 12 seconds into the game. Upon further review, it appeared Palmer’s arm was moving forward as he was hit by Star Lotulelei, so it should’ve been ruled an incomplete pass.

On two successive possessions, Stewart powered his way through the Cardinals defense and into the end zone, converting on third down. He rushed for two yards and one yard, respectively; the latter of which made it 21-0 Carolina at the 11:05 mark of the second quarter. Missed tackles (Marcus Cooper and Kevin Minter) aided the first drive, while Kelvin Benjamin’s 50-yard reception highlighted the second drive.

Even when the Cardinals defense did make a play, they didn’t. Covering Greg Olsen, giving up six inches to the Panthers tight end, Tony Jefferson made a one-handed interception at the Carolina 2 in the second quarter. Unfortunately, Jefferson’s left foot was out of bounds, wiping out the third-down play. The Panthers would convert on fourth down and later kicked a 43-yard field goal for a 24-0 lead at the 2:45 mark.

Trailing by two scores and driving after the defense had forced a three-and-out, the Cardinals beat themselves with penalties. There were four of them: holding (Earl Watford), illegal formation (Jared Veldheer), illegal use of hands (D.J. Humphries) and unsportsmanlike conduct (Palmer); the latter two wiping out a 27-yard catch by Andre Ellington to convert on 2nd-and-19. Instead, it was 2nd-and-44. The Cardinals eventually punted the football.

STAT OF THE GAME

2, 8: Palmer turned the ball over twice and now has eight turnovers in his past eight quarters played in Carolina

HE SAID IT

“We got to make the plays, we got to make the stops. We didn’t get off the field, ” said Tony Jefferson, who caused and recovered a Stewart fourth-quarter fumble.

NOTED

– Tharold Simon exited the game very early in the third quarter. He headed into the locker room with a right ankle injury.

Tyrann Mathieu exited the game midway in the second quarter with a shoulder injury and didn’t return.

– Jared Veldheer exited the game midway through the fourth quarter with an arm injury.

– In the fourth quarter, the Cardinals faced a 2nd-and-44, the first team to face such a second-down distance since 2001.

– Among the Cardinals’ inactives were three injured players: Darren Fells (ankle), Alex Okafor (calf) and Ed Stinson (toe).

UP NEXT

Some much-needed rest.

The Cardinals don’t play in Week 9, hitting the bye at the exact midpoint of the season.

When we next see the Cardinals in action, it will be against the 49ers on Sunday, Nov. 13. Kickoff is scheduled for 2:25 p.m. with pregame coverage beginning four hours earlier on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.

The Cardinals will be looking to sweep their NFC West rivals for the second straight year after beating San Francisco 33-21 earlier in the season. In that game, Drew Stanton led the team to victory with Fitzgerald and Johnson each scoring twice, and the defense sacking quarterback Blaine Gabbert seven times.

Counting that win, the Cardinals have won four of the last five meetings.

Overall, San Francisco leads 29-21 in the series, which dates back to 1951.

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