Panthers vs. Cardinals - Report Card

The Panthers went into halftime giving up nearly 300 yards of offense in the first half. After half time, the Cardinals only managed 3 points. How do the Panthers grade-out in their come-from-behind win in the desert?

REPORT CARD VS. CARDINALS

PASSING OFFENSE: B-plus -- Jake Delhomme completed 18-of-29 passes for 243 yards with two touchdowns, both to Steve Smith, and one interception. After allowing four sacks last week against Green Bay, Delhomme was barely touched on Sunday, although he did suffer a quad bruise on a late hit. He said he's sore, but fine. Smith finally got to celebrate a big offensive game and a win on the same day, catching eight passes for 119 yards. He now has six touchdowns in five games and three 100-yard performances. Once again, Keary Colbert was held without a catch, and you have to wonder how long it will be before Rod Gardner replaces him in the starting lineup. Gardner caught his first three passes of the season for 33 yards. DeShaun Foster continues to be a valuable weapon in the passing game.

RUSHING OFFENSE: C -- Carolina was never able to establish the running game against the Cardinals, and when they needed a first down to put the game away, they couldn't get one, gaining only 9 yards on three Stephen Davis runs. That allowed the Cardinals to get the ball back with less than two minutes to play and have one more shot at the end zone. Davis finished with 46 yards on 18 carries and scored his seventh rushing touchdown of the season. DeShaun Foster had 89 all-purpose yards from scrimmage, including 42 yards on eight carries. However, he did fumble once. The Panthers need to do a better job of sustaining drives early in the game with their running game.

PASS DEFENSE: C -- This should be a split grade - an 'F' in the first half and an 'A' in the second half. After allowing Josh McCown to throw for 274 yards and two touchdowns in the first half, the Panthers pretty much shut down the Cardinals' passing game in the second half. Cornerback Chris Gamble struggled playing on a bad ankle and the Panthers turned out to be better off without him after benching him at halftime. Ken Lucas was spectacular for Carolina, tipping two passes that went for interceptions and recovering a fumble. Still, Anquan Boldin finished with 158 yards on 10 catches, while Larry Fitzgerald had 136 yards on nine catches for Arizona. Carolina had three interceptions and forced four turnovers in all on the day, leading to 17 points.

RUSH DEFENSE: A-plus -- The Panthers shut down just about anything the Cardinals threw at them on the ground. Marcel Shipp was held to 22 yards on 13 carries and J.J. Arrington just 14 yards on four carries. Other than a 15-yard run, Shipp averaged less than one yard per carry. Most of Arizona's rushing yards came from quarterback Josh McCown, who ran for 29 yards on five scrambles. Julius Peppers made some big plays against the run.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C -- John Kasay missed his first two field goals from 53 and 62 yards, but did connect from 46. Jason Baker seems like he's doing a solid job of punting, as long as the game isn't on the line. Like last week, when the Panthers needed a big punt in the fourth quarter, he shanked it. Jamal Robertson did a solid job filling in for the injured Rod Smart, averaging 31.7 yards per kickoff return. Carolina's coverage teams were solid for a fifth straight week.

COACHING: B-minus -- The Panthers won despite an ugly performance by their secondary; one in particular by Chris Gamble. Coach John Fox made a good decision to bench Gamble at halftime. It's hard to like Dan Henning's conservative style late in the game, although it did work out in the end zone. Still, he ran Stephen Davis three times and the Panthers failed to pick up a first down, giving the Cardinals high-powered offense one more shot. It would have been nice to see a quick screen to Steve Smith on that series since that had worked so well all game. Defensive coordinator Mike Trgovac has some serious work to do with his secondary during the bye week. The Panthers have to improve against the pass and find a way to get pressure on the quarterback. They had only one sack on Sunday.

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