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Arizona Cardinals offense struggles in 34-10 loss to Carolina Panthers in Glendale

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) gives Arizona Cardinals inside linebacker Zaven...
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) gives Arizona Cardinals inside linebacker Zaven Collins (25) a shove as Newton runs for a touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 14, 2021, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso)(Ralph Freso)
Updated: Nov. 14, 2021 at 4:15 PM MST
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GLENDALE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5/AP) -- The Arizona Cardinals fell to the Carolina Panthers 34-10 on Sunday afternoon, losing their second game of the season. P.J. Walker started for the Panthers and finished with 167 yards and one interception. Colt McCoy finished with 107 yards and one interception for the Cardinals before leaving the game with an injury. The Panthers star player was running back Christian McCaffrey, who finished with 161 total yards.

Cam Newton made his awaited debut for his former team after signing a one-year contract, worth up to $10 million last Thursday. Newtown led the Panthers to a touchdown after McCoy fumbled on the Cardinals first drive. Former Cardinals player Haason Reddick swiped the ball out of McCoy’s hands and the Panthers took over. Newtown ran up the middle for a two-yard touchdown and did his signature “Superman” celebration as the Panthers went up 7-0.

Newton — the 2015 NFL MVP who was signed by the quarterback-thin Panthers earlier in the week — made his presence felt on his first play of the game, entering on third down and screaming “I’m back!” after barreling into the right corner of the end zone for a 2-yard touchdown.

After the Cardinals turned it over on downs on the next drive, Carolina got an early jump on the Red Birds. McCaffrey ran up the middle for a 13-yard rush into the endzone, but the play call was reversed. Panthers took over at the Cardinals two-yard line, and a quick pass from Newtown to Robby Anderson put the Panthers up 14-0.

The Cardinals offense sputtered all game, not quite having the same rhythm as last weeks win against the Niners. With 6:25 left in the first quarter, McCoy threw a deep ball intended for Antoine Wesley, but was picked off by Donte Jackson. Carolina took over and marched down the field for a field goal, courtesy of former Cardinals player Zane Gonzalez. The Panthers went up 17-0.

McCoy and the rest of the Cardinals offense couldn’t get into a groove, punting three times in the second quarter. However, Walker attempted a deep pass, but was intercepted by Cardinals Jalen Thompson, giving the Cardinals some much-needed momentum. Cardinals weren’t able to capitalize and went three-and-out on the next drive.

Walker and the Panthers marched down the field just before halftime and were able to squeeze in a field goal from Gonzalez, leading the Cardinals 23-0 at the half. With just under 13 minutes in the third quarter, the Cardinals finally got their first score of the game. Matt Prater hit a field goal from 47 yards out, putting the Cardinals on the board 23-3. Panthers quickly regained control and the rookie running back Chuba Hubbard scampered in for the touchdown, giving the Panthers a comfortable 31-3 lead and leaving Cardinals fans in disbelief.

After a sack by Panthers linebacker Shaq Thompson, McCoy immediately went to the medical tent and did not return to the game. Backup Chris Streveler jumped in for the Cardinals late in the third quarter. The Cardinals found the back of the endzone with 9:19 in the fourth quarter, after running back James Conner scampered in for an 11-yard touchdown run. Conner gave the Cardinals a much-needed touchdown, cutting the score to 31-10.

However, the comeback fell just short for the Cardinals, and the team was unable to find the momentum that led them to victory in past games, as the Panthers won 34-10. Star players Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins were ruled out for the second week in a row with injuries.

The Cardinals managed 169 total yards and could never mount a response after Carolina’s opening onslaught. Fans were seen leaving the stands early after the disappointing loss.

Carolina’s Zane Gonzalez made field goals from 44, 48 and 49 yards in the first half as the Panthers built their 23-0 lead. He added a 27-yard field goal in the second half. The Cardinals released Gonzalez in the offseason, electing to let him sign elsewhere after an up-and-down 2020.

The Panthers improved to 5-5 on the season, while the Cardinals fell to 8-2. The Red Birds will travel to Seattle next week to take on the Seahawks at 2:25 p.m.