John David Mercer/USA TODAY

Carolina Panthers Lead the Arizona Cardinals 24-7 At Halftime

For the second straight game, the Carolina Panthers enter halftime with a double digit lead. However, this game is far from over as they have suffered a number of injuries on the defensive side of the ball.

  • Once again the Carolina Panthers jump out to a big lead after the first quarter and led the Arizona Cardinals 17-0. The Panthers were able to score on their first three possessions with a field goal and two touchdowns. The first touchdown was an end around run by Ted Ginn Jr. and then Cam Newton threw an 86-yard touchdown pass to Philly Brown. This was the longest pass in an NFC Conference Championship game since 2007 when Brett Farve threw a 90-yard touchdown pass.

  • The Cardinals were able to answer and had a rushing touchdown by David Johnson to cut into their lead. The Cardinals rookie running back started the game off slow but has 58 rushing yards plus three receptions for 25 yards. The Panthers have done an excellent job containing the passing attack of the Cardinals but will need to try and slow down their run game. Carson Palmer finished the first half with only 85 passing yards and one interception. The team needs to continue to put pressure on the Cardinals' quarterback.
  • The biggest storyline from the first half may be the injuries though. The team lost safety Roman Harper early in the second quarter due to an eye injury and the team announced he will not be returning. The team has some depth at the position and Tre Boston, who was a starter last year, is able to step in. The injury to Thomas Davis is a much bigger concern because of what he brings to this defense. He suffered an arm injury midway through the second quarter and has also been ruled out for this game.

  • Newton has done an excellent job playing in the offense and being in control this game. He has only thrown the ball 13 times, completing seven of those passes for 135 passing yards. However, he has made the plays when they have needed him to including the throw to Brown and then the rushing touchdown at the end of the first half. The interception at the end of the first half isn't a major concern as he did make the right read but overthrew him and Patrick Peterson intercepted him.
  • The most important thing for the Panthers in the second half will be to keep pressure on the Cardinals. They have done an excellent job forcing turnovers, with three fumble recoveries and an interception, but were able to turn only one into a touchdown. This is an area they really excelled in this season and need to continue to force turnovers, especially with Davis and Harper out the rest of the game.

Twitter @BrandonCroce.

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