REPORT CARD VS. CARDINALS

REPORT CARD VS. CARDINALS

PASSING OFFENSE: C-plus -- Jake Delhomme was up and down through most of the game, but came up big when it counted the most. Delhomme (20 of 32, 236 yards) threw a 31-yard touchdown pass to Foster to give Carolina the lead in the fourth quarter and then engineered a final drive to set up John Kasay's winning field goal from 49 yards with four seconds left on the clock. Steve Smith also came up big in the final drive with five receptions for 43 yards. Muhsin Muhammad was noticeably absent for most of the game with one catch for 11 yards. Kris Mangum allowed a potential touchdown pass bounce off his body, resulting in an early interception.

RUSHING OFFENSE: D -- Stephen Davis now has a banged up knee to go along with his sore ankle, which is some cause for concern for the Panthers headed into the playoffs. Luckily, Carolina has a couple of weeks to rest Davis if they so choose. Davis did play through the injuries but finished with only 48 yards on 13 carries. DeShaun Foster had four carries for 16 yards, but the Panthers didn't establish the running game as they hoped they had hoped.

PASS DEFENSE: B-minus -- The Panthers came out and dominated the first quarter, sacking Josh McCown twice, forcing two fumbles and intercepting a pass and returning it for a touchdown in the first 10 minutes. It looked like smooth sailing, but the Carolina then allowed McCown to lead two lengthy touchdown drives as the Panthers fell behind 14-7 at the half. But, near the end of the game, the defense stepped up again, holding the Cardinals to a field goal when they had a first-and-10 at the Carolina 11. McCown finished the game 14 of 25 for 172 yards with one interception and no touchdown passes. Rookie cornerback Ricky Manning, who was filing in for the injured Reggie Howard, had some trouble covering Anquan Boldin.

RUSH DEFENSE: F -- The Panthers allowed a Cardinals team which ranked 30th in the league in rushing to run for 170 yards on 40 carries. Marcel Shipp led the way with 89 yards rushing. Josh McCown also hurt the Panthers continuously by scrambling out of the pocket and picking up big yards. The Panthers need to do something different in defending mobile quarterbacks. Carolina, however, was playing without defensive end Mike Rucker and middle linebacker Dan Morgan.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B -- John Kasay avenged his three-miss performance against the Eagles by hitting from 21 and 49 yards. Kasay's game-winning field goal was his fourth of the season. Carolina's coverage teams showed some flaws and Todd Sauerbrun didn't help much by sending one kickoff out of bounds. Carolina also had a holding penalty on one kickoff return, forcing them to start one drive at their own 7. Ironically though, that led to Carolina's only offensive touchdown.

COACHING: C-plus -- John Fox made a tough call when he accepted a holding penalty on the Cardinals, giving them another shot at the end zone near the end of regulation. But Julius Peppers came up with a sack to force a field goal. Fox worried the Cardinals might go for it on fourth down from the 4-yard line. You can look at this game as half empty or half full. The Panthers played terrible for most of the game but still won. This team has a long way to go if they want to make some noise in the playoffs. Good teams don't skirt by a 3-10 team on their way to the playoffs. Still, in winning without three defensive starters the Panthers showed some heart.


Panther Insider Top Stories