Despite jumping out to a 17-3 lead in the third quarter, the Cardinals abandoned the running game early and carried the ball only 14 times for 50 yards on the afternoon. RB Edgerrin James compiled just 17 yards on seven carries while Rookie RB Tim Hightower received only three carries for 6 yards. WR Anquan Boldin led the team in rushing, as he took a reverse 30 yards during first quarter action.
Arizona's outstanding receiving corps found success against the Panthers' secondary earlier this year and will need to find similar results on Saturday night. WR Larry Fitzgerald led the Cardinals with seven catches for 115 yards while WR Steve Breaston reeled in nine passes for 91 yards. Boldin was held to just 63 yards on nine catches but managed to find the end zone twice.
RB DeAngelo Williams
Carolina RB DeAngelo Williams kicked off a tremendous start to the second half of the season against Arizona, racking up 108 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. After topping the century mark in Week 8, Williams went on to rush for 100-plus yards in six of his last eight contests. During that time span, Williams averaged an astounding 6.5 yards per carry and reached pay dirt 15 times.
Rookie CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has catapulted to the top of the Cardinals' depth chart at cornerback, but could have his hands full against Panthers WR Steve Smith. Smith torched Arizona's secondary in this year's initial matchup, racking up 117 yards on five catches. His 65-yard touchdown grab from QB Jake Delhomme late in the third quarter put Carolina ahead for good.
Although LB Karlos Dansby forced and recovered a Delhomme fumble, the Cardinals' pass rush was unable to consistently pressure the veteran quarterback. Delhomme was extremely efficient completing 20-of-28 passes for 248 yards and two touchdowns. Arizona defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast must devise a better game plan in order to disrupt the Panthers' timing in the passing game.
Brad Wilbricht can be contacted at email@example.com