GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 11: Cornerback Patrick Peterson #21 of the Arizona Cardinals returns a punt for a 89 yard touchdown against the Carolina Panthers during the NFL season opening game at the University of Phoenix Stadium on September 11, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona. The Carindals defeated the Panthers 28-21. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
This is the first installment in a two a week series recapping the Cardinals 16 games. In these posts we will go over key stats, take it possession by possession, and if it was a Cardinals loss, explain the key factors in that loss. Jess and I will be doing these posts every Saturday and Sunday. To kick us off, we start with Kickoff Weekend, the Panthers and first overall pick Cam Newton, against the Cardinals and newly acquired QB, Kevin Kolb.Passing:
Kevin Kolb: 18/27, 309 Yards, 2 TD's
Cam Newton: 24/37, 422, 2 TD's, 1 INT
A solid performance by Kolb and a great performance by the rookie Cam Newton. Kolb looked good in his Arizona debut, but that was overshadowed by Cam Newtons record breaking performance.
Beanie Wells: 18 Attempts, 90 Yards, 1 TD
Cardinals Total: 25 Attempts, 99 Yards, 1 TD
A solid game by Wells. Was just the start of his first 1000 yard season. Could have had more yards if he was able to break contact after the first hit.
Deangelo Williams: 12 Attempts, 30 Yards
Jonathan Stewart: 7 Attempts, 26 Yards
Cam Newton: 8 Attempts, 18 Yards, 1 TD
Carolina Total: 27 Attempts, 74 Yards, 1 TD
Cardinals stuffed the Panthers run game. Many people thought that Williams and Stewart would run all over Arizona but that wasn't the case.
Early Doucet: 3 Catches, 105 Yards, 1 TD
Larry Fitzgerald: 3 Catches, 62 Yards
Jeff King: 2 Catches 61 Yards, 1 TD
Cardinals Total: 18 Catches, 309 Yards, 2 TD's
Larry Fitzgerald was quite, but Cardinal fans were expecting a breakout year from Doucet following his play in this game. Jeff King was also a surprise to some fans after his 61 yard performance in this one, when many people expected it to be Todd Heap making the big plays at the TE position.
Steve Smith: 8 Catches, 178 Yards, 2 TD's
Greg Olsen: 4 Catches, 78 Yards
Brandon LaFell: 4 Catches, 70 Yards
Steve Smith stole the show in this one. One TD came on a blown coverage play, while the second came against Patrick Peterson, who had decent coverage. Olsen was a surprise, as was LaFell.
Panthers received the ball to begin the game. They started their season off with a penalty on the Kick Return pushing them back 8 yards, to their own 16 yard line. Williams would take the handoff up the right side for a gain of 2 yards. The following play Cam Newton would scramble for 14 yards and a first down. Williams would run again, this time up the middle for another 2 yard gain. Next play Cam Newton would be sacked for a 6 yard loss bring up a 3rd and 14. Cam Newton would attempt a pass to Naanee, pass would end up incomplete forcing a Baker punt.
The Cardinals would then take the ball. Their first play of the season, was a Beanie Wells 9 yard rush up the gut. The next play, Kolb would hit TE Todd Heap for a 20 yard gain, to the Carolina 25. Kolb would take a sack of 11 yards on the ensuing play making it a 2nd and 21, only to have 5 yards chipped off due to a neutral zone in fraction. The hyphen would chip 8 of our 2nd and 16 to make it a manageable 3rd and 8. Kolb would hit Doucet for 16 yards, setting up a Beanie Wells 7 yard rush, getting his first TD of the season.
Next drive the Panthers looked like they would have to punt on a 3rd and 7, but one of Arizonas many Defensive mistakes occured. Rhodes appeared to believe Wilson would be covering the top, but Wilson believed he would be covering the opposite side of the field, thus allowing Steve Smith to get behind the secondary on his way to a 77 yard TD.
The next series for Arizona didn't get going at all. A 4 yard run by Wells would be called back due to holding on Sendlein, Kolb missed an easy throw to Demarco Sampson, and Kolb would be sacked the ensuing play, fumbling the ball, which was recovered by newly acquired LG, Daryn Colledge.
We would have to wait for Arizona's first possession of the 2nd Quarter for anything interesting to happen. After moving the ball down the field well, Kolb would scramble on a 2nd and 4 being stripped from behind, which lead to Carolinas, Thomas Davis, to make the recovery.
Carolina would be unable to do anything with the turnover, and sent it right back to Arizona who were poised to score after killing 3:11 on the clock to bring it to 1:08 and a easy 35 yard FG attempt for Feely. That kick however... Would soar wide left.
Carolina would get the ball back and appeared to have their drive halted with a Daryl Washington interception, but it was called back due to a 'Roughing the Passer' call that the league would later apologize for. Newton would then throw to Steve Smith who then hauled in his 2nd TD catch of the day. Coverage on the play seemed decent, but Steve Smith wanted the ball more than Peterson did.
It wouldn't take long for Arizona to get the crowd going, with Daryl Washington making a pick (with no fouls). It would take one play following the interception for the Cardinals to tie the game, with a 48 yard strike from Kevin Kolb to former Carolina Panther Jeff King.
Carolina would respond however with a drive of 4:51 and a Cam Newton rushing TD. Newton was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct.
The score would remain the same until the Cardinals knocked the Panthers out of field goal range with a split sack between Darly Washington and O'Brien Schofield. On a 3rd and 7 the ensuing drive, Kevin Kolb would hit Early Doucet for a 70 yard TD knotting the score up again.
The Panthers would stall on the next drive after a false start by Naanee, and a sack on Newton. The next play would seal the game for good.
With what seemed like Peterson going to have to fair catch due to what appeared to be a solid punt return coverage, turned out to put the Panthers to sleep. Peterson would cut right, and break several tackles on his way to an 89 yard TD return, giving Arizona the 28-21 win over Carolina.
Final Score: 28-21 Arizona (1-0)