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Sunday, November 1, 2009
Rapid Reaction: Panthers 34, Cardinals 21

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando


GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The rugged Carolina team that failed to show up against Arizona during the playoffs last season made an unexpected appearance at University of Phoenix Stadium in Week 8.

The Cardinals, perhaps a bit high on themselves after beating the Giants, seemed completely unprepared.

Instead of catching interceptions from Jake Delhomme as previous scripts suggested the case would be, the Cardinals threw them to Carolina. Kurt Warner, picked off five times, tends to have a game like this every so often. But the Cardinals' defense, ranked No. 1 in yards allowed per game entering Week 8, failed to compensate. This defeat was a team effort.

Arizona's performance demonstrated again that the Cardinals cannot be trusted to perform well consistently. The Cardinals can still be plenty dangerous when threatened or when the stakes are high. But they are rarely a sure bet when the evidence says they should be one. And they should have been a safe bet Sunday.

Warner often could not find open receivers when he did have time to throw. This has been a recurring theme for Arizona this season, and an unexpected one. The Cardinals cannot be at their best while feeding dump passes to running back Tim Hightower after failing to find open receivers. It's one of the angles I plan to explore upon heading to the locker rooms momentarily.

On the injury front, Anquan Boldin did not return after aggravating his ankle injury. Larry Fitzgerald, Steve Breaston, Jerheme Urban and Sean Morey were the receivers when Arizona went to its four-receiver offense.