The 5 Takeaways from the Coyotes introduction of

first_img The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelo CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Wait a minute, this isn’t University of Phoenix Stadium…The Arizona Cardinals as well as myself made it to Charlotte in time for the NFC Championship Game. They are either 60 minutes of football away from the Super Bowl or 60 minutes of football away from their season coming to an end. And honestly, neither scenario would surprise me.The Panthers earned the home game by way of their 15-1 regular season record. They were the only team to win more games than Arizona, who went 13-3. They are the two best teams in the NFC, and in my opinion, are also the two best teams in the NFL. 14:16 left in fourth quarterCardinals did not get the first on third down as Darren Fells dropped an open pass, but they went for it on fourth with Palmer finding David Johnson for the necessary yardage. Palmer then connected with Fells for a 21-yard touchdown, and J.J. Nelson converted the two-point attempt and the score is 34-15.End of third quarterThe Cardinals turned to a no-huddle offense and are moving the ball, and when the fourth quarter begins they’ll be facing a 3rd-and-2 from the Carolina 29. This should be four down territory even if they don’t pick it up.2:08 left in third quarterCards had a chance to stop the Panthers on a 3rd-and-11, but Newton ran for the first and then a play later ran for a touchdown. The PAT makes the score 34-7, and it seems like this next 17:08 will be the final 17:08 of this season for Arizona. Obviously crazy things can happen, but if nothing else, you’d like to see the team keep fighting. At 24-14 the game would not have been ideal, but still within reach. As it is, the Cardinals trail 24-7 and have some work to do in the second half if they don’t want these next 30 minutes to be their last of the season. 11:47 left in second quarterThe Cardinals finally forced a punt, getting the Panthers in a third-and-long and then applying enough pressure to force Newton to throw the ball out of bounds. Patrick Peterson returns the punt to the Arizona 21. So if nothing else, at least the defense got a stop — and to be fair, they had Carolina in a third-and-long before the long TD catch, so maybe they’re slowly figuring things out. It’s 3rd-and-11 for Carolina at the Arizona 23. End of first quarterThe quarter ends with a nice 14-yard run to the Arizona 36, but the score is…not nice. Arizona did little right in the first 15 minutes, with the defense, offense and special teams all contributing to the deficit. Maybe things will turn around on this drive — they almost have to. Score is 17-0. 4:15 left in third quarterPanthers get a big gain when Jerraud Powers barely tips a pass that continues to Ted Ginn, who catches it and races into Arizona territory. Cam Newton lost a yard on first down and the Panthers burn a timeout facing a 2nd-and-11 at the Arizona 39. 5:44 left in second quarterCardinals get on the scoreboard with a 10-play, 79-yard drive that ends with a one-yard David Johnson touchdown run. The drive took 6:03 off the clock, and was a nice jolt for an offense that seems to be finding itself some. Palmer was solid with his reads/throws and there were good holes for Johnson to run through.The PAT is good and the score is now 17-7. Also, Panthers LB Thomas Davis went to the locker room with a right arm injury, his return is questionable. 13:26 left in first quarterCards go three-and-out after Palmer throws high to Michael Floyd on third down. It was a tight window that he missed by a little bit. Punt is returned by Ted Ginn, Jr. to the Carolina 34.15:00 left in first quarterThe Cardinals will begin at their own 20 after Gano’s kick sails out of the back of the end zone. First play is a run by David Johnson that saw whatever hole may have been there closed up real quick after minimal gain. 12:58 left in fourth quarterThe Cardinals force a three-and-out and get the ball back at their own 36. So, I guess they’re still in it. Maybe, sort of. Let’s see what they have in them. 6:19 left in third quarterAnd the Cardinals go three-and-out when Palmer’s short pass to Larry Fitzgerald is dropped. Ball was tipped, but still hit No. 11 in the hands and that’s a catch you expect him to make 11 out of 10 times. Yeah, I know the math.Anyway, Butler gets a good punt away and the Panthers take over at their own 21. But good punts will not get the Cardinals back into this game. Still 7:50 left in third quarterKickoff is a touchback and the Cardinals once again start a drive with bad field position. The offense showed signs of life in the second quarter but too often shot itself in the foot with turnovers. Obviously they cannot afford to cough up the ball again, but they are in a tough spot now trailing like they are. Carolina is missing a couple of key defensive starters, so maybe that will matter. Maybe. 1:56 left in second quarterNewton lunges into the end zone for the touchdown, and the PAT makes the score 24-7. Still time left in this half and you have to expect the Cardinals to try and make something happen — they almost have to.But wow, what a killer that turnover was. You kind of had a feeling that Arizona would have come away with some points on that drive and Carolina, with their offense sputtering some, may have tightened up a bit. Instead, it’s another seven points for the Panthers and an even bigger lead.Sports. 7:50 left in third quarterThe Panthers take the ball to start the half and go on an 11-play, 80-yard drive that results in a Gano field goal. They are now up 27-7, and if the Cardinals are going to find a way to rally they cannot let Carolina eat up that much clock on drives.End of first halfJust when it seemed like maybe the Cardinals would get back into the game as Peterson picked off Newton and returned the ball 72 yards to the Carolina 23, but on the first play from scrimmage Palmer is picked off by Kurt Coleman trying to find John Brown in the end zone. Very similar to the game-sealing pick he threw in Pittsburgh where he either did not see the safety or just plain ignored him, and it costs the Cardinals here. Top Stories 6:49 left in fourth quarterCards have gotten the Panthers in some third down situations but have been unable to finish things, as Carolina is now at the Arizona six. Just no stopping Cam Newton.Still 11:38 left in fourth quarterReplay reveals Coleman picked off the pass at the one and then ran into the end zone. So, not a touchback. Ball is placed at the 16.11:38 left in fourth quarterCardinals get a first down by way of a penalty, but then Palmer tries to force the ball to John Brown while he was double covered. Coleman makes the interception and is tackled by the facemask in the end zone. Panthers take over at their 35. 51 Comments   Share   1:48 left in first quarterCardinals pick up a couple of first downs, which was good, but then got questionable with play-calling only to see the drive stall. The first play was a Wildcat run from David Johnson, which netted one yards, and the next was on the very next snap when a reverse with Larry Fitzgerald throwing the ball went awry due to pressure. Palmer is nearly picked on third down as the throw was a touch late, and the punt is fair caught at the Carolina 12. No points, but at least the field was flipped. Progress. 2:00 left in seasonPalmer got picked off again — his fourth interception and sixth turnover of the game — though the route Michael Floyd ran on the play probably didn’t help. At any rate, the Panthers brought Derek Anderson in to finish this one, which he is doing. 12:43 left in second quarterJust when it seemed like the Cardinals might be getting things together they come undone. A couple of nice David Johnson plays were followed by an Andre Ellington run that went nowhere, a pass in which Palmer had all kinds of time but missed Ellington leaking out of the backfield, and then on third down Palmer was pressured early, hit and fumbled. The Panthers recovered at their own 38, giving them great field position once again.A bad start just got worse. 9:30 left in first quarterAnother kickoff sails out of the end zone, another drive starts at the 20. Now it moves back to the 15 as a false start on Bobby Massie draws a flag. 5:11 left in seasonFirst play from scrimmage is Palmer being picked off by Luke Kuechly, who returns it for a touchdown. The PAT makes the score 49-15 and this game started off bad and amazingly got even worse.5:26 left in fourth quarterNewton hits Funchess for a touchdown and this one is a much worse game than it should have been. Panthers go for two because why not, convert, and the score is 42-15. 7:47 left in first quarterCardinals got a much-needed first down when David Johnson took a short pass on third down and got the yardage, but the drive stalled as Palmer was unable to connect on other plays down the field. He had J.J. Nelson for what could have been a long TD, but managed to overthrow the speedster. Protection/blocking has been an issue, with some mental mistakes costing the Cardinals. That will need to be fixed if they are to have a chance tonight. 1:17 left in seasonPanthers take a couple knees, giving the ball back to Arizona. How kind of them. Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and selling There has been plenty of discussion about this game and the advantages and mismatches and all, but in my mind this comes down to whether or not the Cardinals will be able to block against the Panthers’ excellent front seven. If they can, then Carson Palmer will have ample opportunity to torch a suspect secondary. If they cannot, this game might be ugly for the visitors.Anyway, it’s pretty cold here but maybe this is football weather? No rain, no snow and not much wind. About as good as the Cardinals could have asked for.This should be a fun one, so let’s go. The Cardinals won the toss and chose to receive the ball first.Game, season overWell, this was going to happen for one of these teams today, and it happened to be the Cardinals. Terrible performance and I know people will question effort/coaching and all that stuff, but sometimes you just get beat by a better team.49-15 is your final. Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians and owner Bill Bidwill on the field before the NFL football NFC Championship game =ac=Sunday, Jan. 24, 2016, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) 1:47 left in second quarterPalmer sacked on the first play, fumbles the ball. It bounces around a bit before being recovered by the Panthers at the Arizona 31. Yeesh.In stories that would be HUGE if the game was close (and still could be, eventually), the Panthers announced both safety Roman Harper and linebacker Thomas Davis will not return due to injuries. Two defensive starters. 4:45 left in second quarterCardinals force a punt, which is a terrible one, but Patrick Peterson tried to catch it on the run and instead watched it bounce away only to be recovered by the Panthers. Terrible mistake costs the Cardinals field position, momentum and everything else, as the Panthers take over at the Arizona 46. 2:00 left in second quarter Now, can the offense do the same? 9:35 left in first quarterCardinals use their first timeout as the Panthers are setting up for a field goal attempt. Carolina moved the ball OK, with the big play a long pass to Ginn, who beat Patrick Peterson on the play. Two years in a row now Ginn has hurt the Cardinals in this stadium. Tony Jefferson made a great play to break up Newton’s pass to Greg Olsen on third down.The field goal attempt is good from 45 yards out, giving the Panthers an early 3-0 lead. 4:31 left in first quarterCardinals unable to get a stop when Cam Newton finds Greg Olsen on a nice third-down throw, and then a few plays later it burns them as Ginn takes a reverse up, down and all over the field on his way to the end zone. The 22-yard score as well a the PAT make the score 10-0, and you get the feeling Arizona badly needs to put a drive together. :49 left in first quarterCardinals forced the Panthers into a third-and-long, but Newton finds Corey Brown for an 86-yard catch-and-run touchdown. Rashad Johnson was beat on the play and then missed the tackle.Three drives, three scores for the Panthers. About as terrible a start as the Cardinals could have imagined. The Panthers have a knack for letting teams come back, but you didn’t want to find yourselves in this situation. Not surprisingly, Peterson’s gaffe has led to bad things for the Cardinals. Panthers got near the end zone, but Arizona has stuffed two runs, which makes it third and goal from the one. Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impactlast_img read more