Final Score: Arizona 28, Carolina 21
Glendale, AZ (Sports Network) - Rookie defensive back Patrick Peterson
returned a punt 89 yards for the go-ahead score, as the Arizona Cardinals
downed the Carolina Panthers, 28-21, in a frenetic regular-season opener.
Peterson, the fifth overall selection out of LSU, overshadowed the debut of
No. 1 overall pick Cam Newton, who threw for a rookie-record 422 yards and two
touchdowns against an interception in the loss.
The 2010 Heisman Trophy winner drove the Panthers deep into Arizona (1-0)
territory in the waning minutes, but failed to convert a 4th-and-5 from the
Still, Newton became the first rookie to throw for more than 400 yards in his
first NFL game, breaking the debut passing record of 302 yards previously held
by Peyton Manning.
"We were extremely close to winning," said Newton, who threw a 77-yard
touchdown pass to Steve Smith in the game, "but we just gotta go back and get
Smith caught eight passes for 178 yards and two touchdowns for the Panthers
(0-1), who went 2-14 a season ago.
Kevin Kolb, acquired by the Cardinals in the offseason from Philadelphia,
enjoyed an impressive debut, throwing for 309 yards and two touchdowns on 18-
Beanie Wells ran for 90 yards and a score on 18 carries for the Cardinals, who
finished 5-11 last year.
"I'm not exactly sure that we would have won that game last year," said
Arizona head coach Ken Whisenhunt. "So I was proud of the way our team played
Early in the fourth quarter, Early Doucet caught a short pass from Kolb over
the middle, found a seam and rumbled up the sideline for a 70-yard score to
tie the game at 21-21.
The Panthers moved into Arizona territory on their next drive. Facing a 3rd-
and-10 from the 44, Newton was brought down in the backfield by Richard
Marshall. The ensuing punt would decide the game.
Peterson fielded the ball at the 11-yard line and outran the opposition,
diving, ball outstretched, into the end zone for a 28-21 Cardinals lead.
The Panthers responded, however, as Newton completed a 23-yard pass to Smith.
An additional 11 yards were tacked on due to Clark Haggans' roughing the
passer penalty, setting up a 1st-and-10 from the 11-yard line.
Four incompletions appeared to stall the drive, but Cardinals veteran
linebacker Joey Porter was called for an offsides infraction, giving the
Panthers new life.
Newton dumped the ball over the middle to Mike Goodson, who was tackled by
Paris Lenon one yard shy of the first down marker and the Cardinals took over
Following a punt on the Panthers' opening possession, Kolb led the team 54
yards down the field, taking a 7-0 lead on Wells' seven-yard touchdown spurt.
Newton responded, unleashing a 77-yard touchdown strike to Smith on the third
play of the Panthers' ensuing drive.
Early in the second quarter, the Cardinals worked their way to the Carolina
four-yard line before a Kolb fumble was recovered in the backfield by the
Panthers' Thomas Davis.
On their next possession, the Cardinals again missed an opportunity when Jay
Feely's 36-yard field goal attempt sailed wide left.
Following the miss, Newton threw a pick to Daryl Washington, but the play was
negated due to a roughing the passer call on Marshall. Newton capitalized,
tossing a 26-yard touchdown to Smith for a 14-7 Panthers lead at the half.
Early in the third quarter, Washington picked off Newton. This time, the play
stood, and the Cardinals took advantage on their next play. Kolb eluded a
blitz and rolled to his right to find a wide-open Jeff King for a game-tying
Newton then showed his mettle, leading Carolina on eight-play, 80-yard
touchdown march. He completed passes of 22 and 43 yards to tight ends Jeremy
Shockey and Greg Olsen, respectively -- both of whom were acquired in the
offseason. The drive was capped by Newton's one-yard touchdown plunge.
Carolina has dropped its past nine road games...The Cardinals snapped a seven-
game losing streak in the series...Panthers middle linebacker Jon Beason re-
injured his left ankle during the third quarter and was carted off the field.
He had missed practice time during the week due to the injury.
09/11 21:34:43 ET
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