Here we are! The Cardinals snatched up a wild card spot and are beginning their quest for the Super Bowl. Despite injuries to their starting quarterback and their back up, the Cardinals managed to win 11 games. However, the post season starts every teams record at 0-0 as we take on a win or go home scenario against the Carolina Panthers on the road for the first playoff game. With the playoffs, we will continue our Madden simulation segment from the regular season.
Hopefully the first of many. The way this simulation went, it could be our last one until week 1 of 2015.
Surprisingly, Ryan Lindley was not the problem in this game as he passed for 254 yards and accounted for both of his team's touchdowns. ZERO interceptions. That's a big stat change from week 17 against the 49ers where he threw 3 picks. Madden seems to think Lindley did his homework and hopefully Madden is right. However, he was 21 for 48 with a completion percentage of 43%.
Cam Newton, the man the Cardinals should be afraid of after their performance against agile quarterbacks like Kaepernick and Wilson, came to play. Newton had 324 yards, a 75% completion percentage, and two touchdowns. Talk about a great day. He also rushed for 27 yards and scored a touchdown on the ground as well.
On the receiving end, great days for a quarterback means great days for their receivers. Greg Olsen, the tight end and former Chicago Bear, had 65 yards on 8 receptions and snatched up both of the teams receiving touchdowns. Besides the scores, Kelvin Benjamin had the best day for the Panthers as he hauled in 11 passes for 128 yards.
Michael Floyd led the Cards with 8 receptions for 91 yards and a touchdown. Larry Fitzgerald was in a close second with 6 receptions for 89 yards and a touchdown. John Brown had 5 catches for 55 yards and Ted Ginn Jr. had 3 grabs for 29 yards. Lindley did great spreading the ball around.
The Cardinals demise came from their running game - or lack of one thereof. Between Stefan Taylor and Kerwynn Williams, the Cards had a mere 25 yards on the ground. Yes, 25 on 18 attempts. While Carolina Panthers Jonathan Stewart, scooped up 66 yards on 19 attempts. DeAngelo Williams also carried the rock 10 times for 27 yards.
Calais Campbell had two sacks for the Cards and Alex Okafor had one. Larry Foote, who is returning from an injury, led the team in tackles with 13. Sam Acho came in a close second with 10. Peterson, Cromartie, and Mathieu had seven each. Luke Kuechly led the Panthers with 13 while Star Lotulelei had 11. Wes Horton came up big for the Panthers as he recorded 4 sacks and Kuchly had one.
Carolina was perfect on field goals as Graham Gano hit 4 field goals from 48, 35, 37, and 42. Chandler Catanzaro did not have any field goal attempts. Ted Ginn Jr. returned 2 punts for 63 yards while Carolina had all fair catches and one touchback due to good kicking by Drew Butler.
There you have it. Let's make madden 0-1 Cardinals. Get some running game going early so that Lindley can be in the best situation given the circumstances. Stop Cam Newton. As Kurt Warner said in 2009 when the Cards beat the Panthers in their last playoff matchup, "Let's shock the world!"