Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Carolina Shackles Arizona in Record Fashion; Panthers 27, Cardinals 16; Defense Limits Arizona to 78 Yards; NFL PLAYOFFS

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Carolina Shackles Arizona in Record Fashion; Panthers 27, Cardinals 16; Defense Limits Arizona to 78 Yards; NFL PLAYOFFS

Article excerpt

CHARLOTTE, N.C. * Luke Kuechly knows Carolina's defense didn't have much bite earlier in the season. He said that made Saturday all the more special.

The Panthers held Arizona to 78 yards the fewest ever allowed in an NFL postseason game and forced three turnovers in a 27-16 win, the franchise's first postseason victory in nine years

"We know who we are menacing, stifling and we are going to get after you," Panthers cornerback Josh Norman said. "We know when there is blood in the water and when there is, our sharks are going to eat."

The Panthers (8-8-1) held Arizona to 12 yards in the second half, intercepted Ryan Lindley twice and sacked him four times in a dominating performance.

"You are called upon to win football games and we didn't do that," Lindley said.

Carolina's defense has undergone a remarkable turnaround this season, going from 27th in the league in Week 7 to 10th entering the playoffs.

And the Panthers only seem to be getting better by the week.

"We had a lot of new guys early on who had to get accustomed to each other," said Kuechly, the All-Pro middle linebacker who had a game-high 10 tackles and a key interception. "Now we're all together and communicating and that's huge."

The New York Giants held the previous NFL record for fewest yards in a postseason game, limiting Cleveland to 86 yards on Dec. 21, 1958.

Cam Newton overcame two turnovers and threw for 198 yards and two touchdowns and Jonathan Stewart ran for 123 yards and a score on a rain-soaked afternoon in which the Panthers gained 386 yards.

Trailing by one at halftime the Panthers scored two touchdowns in a span of 1 minute, 32 seconds late in the third quarter to take control.

Rookie running back Fozzy Whittaker caught a pass in the flat from Newton, reversed fields and got a key block from Kelvin Benjamin to spring him for a 39-yard touchdown.

On the ensuing kickoff, Melvin White stripped returner Ted Ginn Jr., a former Panther, at the Arizona 3 and Kevin Reddick recovered for Carolina. …

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