Picked Off

Promises, promises!  The Carolina Panthers made lots of promises this season.

First, they displayed the kind of talent necessary to go all the way.  They showed promise.

Next, they earned a bye week as the NFC’s second seed.  There was the promise of a home playoff game.

Finally, there was the promise from the players that they were here to take care of business.  Promise broken.

Jake Delhomme’s thirty-fourth birthday was a nightmare.  He was picked off five times and he also fumbled once deep in his own end of the field.

Can we say that Jake was the only reason the Panthers lost this game?  Hardly.  The defense surrendered six catches to Larry Fitzgerald, the only available playmaker the Arizona Cardinals had at wide receiver, for 151 yards and a touchdown.  The problem?  That was in the first half alone!  Totally unforgivable.

Why go into the stats?  They don’t matter.  Even John Fox will tell us that stats are for losers.  Well, the stats don’t lie, coach, since the stats say that the team was a loser on Saturday night 33-13.

Let’s just go straight to the questions and not the normal random thoughts:

  • Ken Whisenhunt had his team ready to play and John Fox didn’t.  That’s a fact.  The question is this – did the Panthers rely on the same game plan they used back in week eight?  It sure looked like it.  That’s a sure way to lose a playoff game.
  • Was Jake Delhomme rusty due to the week off?
  • Did the Panthers take Arizona lightly?
  • Were the Panthers looking ahead to the NFC Championship game?
  • After all of our talk about the NFC South being the best division in football, the two teams representing the division in the playoffs have been taken out by the Arizona Cardinals in consecutive weeks.  Yes, the Arizona freakin’ Cardinals.  Who would have believed that two weeks ago?
  • Jake Delhomme had five interceptions in seven previous playoff starts.  He had five tonight.  What the $%#@ ?????
  • Steve Smith’s ZERO catches in the first half should raise eyebrows.  Did the Cardinals have five guys covering him?
  • Initial meltdown occurred in the second quarter.  Trailing 14-7, Carolina was driving with the ball at the Arizona 14.  Jake is picked off at the goal line.  The result is a field goal.  Next possession, Carolina starts at their own 22.  After an offsides penalty, Carolina has a first and five.  They manage to go from first and five to fourth and seven.  On third down, Jake’s pass is batted down at the line of scrimmage.  After a punt which was nearly blocked, Arizona takes over at their own 38 and proceeds to drive easily for a touchdown to take a 20-7 lead.  Game over.

There are more questions to ask but frankly there isn’t enough energy to type them all.  This one was a beat down extraordinaire.  Time will definitely be available for all of us to break this one down and to look ahead to the offseason which, frankly, came three weeks too early.

The Panthers’ chances for what promised to be a Super season were picked off.

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Tags: Carolina Panthers Jake Delhomme John Fox Ken Whisenhunt Larry Fitzgerald Steve Smith

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