Panthers 24, Cardinals 20
Jake Delhomme threw two touchdown passes to Steve Smith, one for 65 yards in the first half and the decisive 4-yarder with 6:54 to go to give the Panthers (3-2) a 24-20 comeback victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.
Delhomme completed 18 of 29 passes for 243 yards and two scores. He was intercepted once.
“To come across the country on a short week to win and fight back the way we did,” Delhomme said, “it was pretty nice.”
Arizona (1-4), leading 20-10 after three quarters, had the ball twice after Carolina’s go-ahead score.
The Cardinals drove to the Panthers 33, but Marlon McCree intercepted McCown’s pass in the end zone for the second time in the game. The Cardinals’ last shot ended when McCown scrambled on fourth-and-10 but came up inches short at the Panthers 49.
“We moved the ball OK, but you’ve got to be able to score points and you’ve got to be able to slam the door,” Arizona coach Dennis Green said.
McCown completed 29 of 46 passes for 394 yards, a career high for the second week in a row. He threw for two touchdowns, but was intercepted three times. McCown threw for 385 yards a week earlier in the victory over San Francisco in Mexico City, a game he started in place of injured Kurt Warner.
Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald became the first Cardinals tandem to top 100 yards receiving each in consecutive games. It was the first time it’s happened in the NFL since 2001, when Derrick Mason and Kevin Dyson did it for Tennessee.
Boldin caught 10 for 158 yards and a touchdown, Fitzgerald nine for 136 yards and a score.
After beating Green Bay on Monday night, the Panthers were in trouble most of the afternoon in the desert.
“The ball got away from my body. He hit it as he was coming. It was just a bad play on my part,” Boldin said.
Two plays later, Stephen Davis scored from the one on the first play of the fourth quarter to make it 20-17.
The Panthers went 94 yards in 10 plays for the winning touchdown. On second-and-12 from his 25, Delhomme’s screen pass to DeShaun Foster gained 30 yards. A personal foul against Chike Okeafor for a blow to Delhomme’s head added 15 to the play to put the ball on the Arizona 30.
With two cornerbacks already sidelined, Arizona lost another, Robert Tate, on the drive. Safety Quentin Harris moved to cornerback and on the 6-yard winning touchdown, Smith fought the ball away from him.
Boldin broke four tackles on a 20-yard scoring play that put Arizona up 17-10 in the second period. Fitzgerald’s leaping grab of McCown’s 26-yard pass for a touchdown on the first play of the second quarter gave the Cardinals a 7-3 lead.
The Cardinals blew a chance for a late first-half score. McCown connected with Charles Lee on a 49-yard pass to the Carolina 2, but on second down from the 4, Lucas deflected McCown’s pass to Fitzgerald and McCree intercepted.
“All turnovers are big because they usually put points on the board or take points off the board,” Panthers coach John Fox said. “That play was huge.”
Lucas took the place of cornerback Chris Gamble, hobbled by a sore ankle, late in the first half. Fitzgerald caught three for 30 yards in the second half.
The Cardinals are off next Sunday. If Warner’s groin injury is healed by then, Green will have to decide whether to stay with McCown. He hinted that it would be hard to go away from the youngster after his two performances while Warner was down.
“That’s a lot of yardage,” Green said. “Josh has been able to find the wide receivers, that’s a big plus.”
McCown said he wasn’t going to concern himself with job security.
“I’m just going to fight and play as hard as I can and whatever happens happens,” he said. “I just hate that we didn’t get a win today. As a quarterback, with the opportunity to make plays, you hate that you walked off this field a loser. That’s what hurts the worst.”
Eric Green left the game with a shoulder injury after he was fooled badly on Smith’s 65-yard TD run. … All three of McCown’s interceptions were deflected, one by Julius Peppers. … Neil Rackers kicked two field goals to improve his club record to 18-for-18 this season.