<
>

Wrap-up: Panthers 34, Cardinals 21

11/1/2009

Posted by ESPN.com’s Pat Yasinskas

What John Fox's team did Sunday -- going into Arizona and dominating the Cardinals -- showed Fox still has something.

He just needs to remember what that something is. It’s as simple as just playing Fox football. That’s what the Panthers did against the Cardinals. They ran the ball extremely well and played excellent defense. Most important of all, they didn’t ask quarterback Jake Delhomme to go out and win the game for them.

There’s a lesson in all that and it makes you wonder why the heck Fox didn’t go that route on a rainy night in Charlotte back in January when the Panthers hosted Arizona in a playoff game and got destroyed.

That loss hung over Delhomme and the Panthers for the first six games of the season. It didn’t have to be that way. But, for reasons I can’t even begin to fathom, Fox got away from his basic philosophy. In that playoff game, he had Delhomme throwing all the time on a rainy night and basically abandoned what had been a very good running game all last season. In that game, Fox, who is supposed to be a defensive genius, pretty much forgot to cover Larry Fitzgerald.

Most of that stuff continued in a 2-4 start this season. But it all came back for the Panthers against the Cardinals this time and maybe that’s some sort of poetic justice. Delhomme was efficient, defensive end Julius Peppers was dominant and the Panthers ran the ball extremely well.

Maybe this continues and it at least shows the Panthers can be very good when things go right. Or maybe some of the early-season problems come back and keep the Panthers out of the playoffs.

For one day anyway, all appears right with the Panthers, who play the undefeated Saints in New Orleans next week. Maybe this shows Fox he needs to stay true to his basic philosophies and this team can be a true playoff contender.