QB Kurt Warner (Stephen Dunn/Getty)
The Cardinals dropped their third decision of the season on Sunday, losing a close 27-23 contest at Carolina. Despite the loss, Arizona is 4-3 on the year and still remains in control of the NFC West. Brad Wilbricht breaks down Sunday’s action from Bank of America Stadium.
Despite holding a 17-3 lead in the third quarter, the Cardinals were unable to secure the victory losing 27-23. While Arizona fell short on the scoreboard, they dominated the game on paper. Arizona had a decisive edge in total yardage (425-362) and time of possession (32:37-27:23).
QB Kurt Warner put up big numbers again in a losing effort, finishing 35-of-49 for 381 yards and two touchdowns. In addition, Warner protected the ball adequately against a feisty Panthers defense, throwing only one interception.
The Cardinals’ running game was non-existent and the team’s leading rusher was WR Anquan Boldin who took a reverse 30 yards. Veteran RB Edgerrin James’ struggles continue as he rushed for only 17 yards on 7 carries. Furthermore, he lost a fumble deep in Arizona territory, leading to a Panthers touchdown.
While rookie RB Tim Hightower continues to find the end zone, his production remains to be limited. Hightower ran six times for just three yards.
Even with the return of Boldin, there were plenty of touches to go around for wide receivers Larry Fitzgerald and Steve Breaston. Breaston continued his outstanding play with nine receptions for 90 yards.
Fitzgerald gave the Carolina defense fits all day as he finished with seven catches for 115 yards. Boldin put forth a gutsy performance in his first game back from injury. He reeled in nine passes for 63 yards, including two touchdown grabs. Boldin has now reached pay dirt eight times on the year.
On defense, Arizona was unable to disrupt QB Jake Delhomme on a consistent basis. Delhomme was extremely efficient, completing 20-of-28 passes for 289 yards and two touchdowns. WR Steve Smith also found success, hauling in five passes for 117 yards and was the recipient of both Delhomme touchdown strikes.
LB Karlos Dansby made the play of the day for the Cardinals’ defense. Dansby broke free on a blitz, stripping Delhomme and recovering the fumble in the process. On the ensuing play, Warner hooked up with Boldin on a two-yard score.
RB DeAngelo Williams led the Panthers in rushing, finishing with 108 yards and one touchdown on 17 carries. Williams’ 6.4 yards per carry hindered the Arizona defense as they failed to get off the field late in the game.
Special teams play hampered the Cardinals as they were unsuccessful on a fake field goal attempt in the first half and botched an extra point during third quarter action. The Panthers took full advantage, as they scored on the following drive taking a 24-23 lead. Smith tight roped down the sideline in route to the 65-yard go ahead scored.
Carolina tacked on a 50-yard field goal by John Kasay rounding out the scoring on the afternoon.
Despite the loss, the Cardinals head home with a 4-3 record and still have a comfortable lead in the NFC West. Next week Arizona returns to divisional play as they travel to take on the 2-5 St. Louis Rams.