Patrick Peterson was able to laugh about it.
It was all good after the game – even after the play – once he scored on his 89-yard punt return Sunday that gave the Cardinals their game-winning points in a 28-21 win over the Panthers. But during the spectacular return, he slowed up and began to high-step around the 20-yard line – nearly costing himself a chance to score.
“I took a quick little peek,” Peterson said of noticing Carolina’s Mike Goodson chasing him so closely. “I was going to give (everyone) a taste of my dancing skills. I saw him behind me and was like, ‘Oh, I gotta get there now.’ That’s when I dove in for the touchdown.”
Winning washes away a lot of worries. That’s why coach Ken Whisenhunt, asked about Peterson’s near faux pas, admitted, “at that point, I was so happy with what we’d done I didn’t really think about it, it be honest with you.”
Peterson’s NFL baptism was interesting, to say the least. He was on the back end of many of the Panthers’ catches Sunday, trying to keep up not only with veteran Steve Smith (eight catches for 178 yards and two touchdowns) but also tight ends Jeremy Shockey and Greg Olsen.
One thing Peterson has never lacked, however, is confidence. That’s why he was considering the high-step at the end of his return and why he said, despite everything, he thought he “played pretty well” Sunday.
“I gave up some plays I knew I should have made but that comes with the game of football,” Peterson said, adding later, “Hopefully next week I will learn from some of the mistakes I made today and come out and play even better.”
That’s Whisenhunt’s expectation.
“There is a reason why you want to make rookies earn their way into playing,” Whisenhunt said. “When you go against guys like Steve Smith and those really good players, there is a learning curve.
“I would have been very easy to get down on yourself with the way some of the plays went in that game, but he had tremendous confidence he was going to make a play.”
If anyone thought Panthers rookie quarterback Cam Newton was going to struggle in his first NFL start, he certainly showed otherwise. Newton tied Matthew Stafford’s NFL record for passing yards by a rookie with 422, and nearly led Carolina to the upset while looking much more poised than someone of his pro experience.
“Everything we saw on film, they pretty much did,” Newton said of the Cards’ defense. “Those guys were playing their behinds off.”
The Cardinals managed to sack Newton four times. But it was one they missed that resonated – linebacker
The Cards also were trying to stay in Newton’s running lanes, slowing up the rush just enough so he couldn’t break off long gains with his feet.
“He put the ball right on the money,” defensive end
“All that matters is the ‘W,’ and I’m glad we pulled it out. But yes, he had a good day.”
For a while, it looked like running back
It was Wells’ second-most carries ever, after his 20-carry game (for just 35 yards) against Tampa Bay last year. The Cards are now 13-3 – postseason included – when Wells has at least 10 carries in a game.
The one negative was a botched pitch play from quarterback
“We got in a hurry down there and (I) left it on his back hip,” Kolb said. “You can’t do that. I won’t do it again, but we will play fearless.”
“The first one was my fault,” Wilson said. “I got nosy.”