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  • Jan

    Delhomme Disaster: Arizona Upsets Carolina 33-13

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    Coming into this year’s playoffs, the Arizona Cardinals had won 2 playoff games in franchise history. After Saturday, the Cardinals had doubled their win total and find themselves hosting the NFC Championship Game on Sunday in Phoenix. How did it happen?

    The Cardinals defense has stepped up as of late, and were able to shut down the Atlanta Falcons’ rushing attack in last week’s 30-24 wild card win. And the Cardinals defense showed up big once again on Saturday, forcing 5 Jake Delhomme interceptions and one Delhomme fumble. Although Delhomme has been known to have “off nights” (including a 3-interception game against Tampa Bay and a 4-interception game against the lowly Raiders during the 2008 regular season), none came close to how poorly he played in front of the hometown crowd on Saturday night.

    After the Panthers scored on a 9-yard rushing touchdown by Jonathan Stewart on the game’s opening drive, the Cardinals rattled off 33 unanswered points to take control of the game. Kurt Warner threw 2 touchdown passes in the 1st half – 1 to Tim Hightower and 1 to Larry Fitzgerald, Neil Rackers kicked 2 field goals and Edgerrin James added a 4-yard rushing touchdown to give the Cardinals a 27-7 halftime lead. The Cardinals didn’t look back, adding 2 more Neil Rackers field goals in the 2nd half to increase the lead to 33-7. A late Delhomme touchdown pass to Steve Smith just wasn’t enough to will the Panthers back to victory.

    Delhomme finished the day an atrocious 17 of 34 for 205 yards. He had 5 interceptions, 1 fumble and 1 touchdown pass, good for a 39.1 passer rating. Because of the turnovers, the Panthers could never get the running game going after the initial drive. DeAngelo Williams finished the game with 12 carries for 63 yards. Jonathan Stewart only had 2 other rushing attempts after he his 9-yard touchdown run. Steve Smith only touched the ball twice – once on a 35-yard pass play and once on the touchdown pass with just 50 seconds left in the game. All in all, Delhomme cost the Panthers the game.

    The Cardinals offense was up to the task. The offensive line gave Kurt warner plenty of time to pass the ball – and as we all know, if Warner has time to throw, he will eat you alive. Warner completed 21 of 32 passes for 220 yards. He had 2 touchdowns and 1 interception, good for a 93.2 passer rating. Larry Fitzgerald led the Cardinals receiving corp with 8 catches for a whopping 166 yards, including 1 touchdown reception. The Cardinals aerial attack opened up the door for the running game. Edgerrin James rushed the ball 20 times for 57 yards and 1 touchdown, while Tim Hightower rushed for 76 yards on 17 carries.

    The Arizona Cardinals will now host the NFC Championship Game against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday. In the only meeting between the 2 teams in 2008, the Eagles crushed the Cardinals 48-20 in Philadelphia on Thanksgiving Day. Although the teams are different now, the Eagles will likely be favored on the road come Sunday afternoon. Will the Eagles or Cardinals make it 3 in a row – stay tuned football fans…

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