Stephen Spach runs after the catch during Sunday's 19-12 loss to the Panthers.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The Cardinals are not going to be in the “race” for the No. 1 overall draft pick and a chance to pick up quarterback Andrew Luck.
After their visit to Carolina Sunday, it’s possible they could cost the Panthers a Lucky opportunity as well.
Coming in with just one win on the season, the Panthers handled the Cards at Bank of America Stadium, dealing Arizona a 19-12 loss that left the Cards – again -- shaking their heads.
“Losses are always tough,” safety
The Panthers (2-12) didn’t do anything spectacular. They ran for 177 yards – Jonathan Stewart racked up 137 of them himself – as they played ball control. The Cards’ defense didn’t break, giving up just one touchdown, but it couldn’t create the turnovers it had in the first start for rookie
This time, the turnovers were needed badly, because offensively, the Cardinals (4-10) stalled far too often. The running game produced just 43 yards, Skelton missed too many plays, and again, the Cards had a few drops that proved killer.
Jump-starting the offense was important enough that coach Ken Whisenhunt called for an onside kick to start the second half, and the Cards trailing, 13-3. It was a good call, except for the try by kicker
“There were just too many mistakes,” Whisenhunt said. “I think our guys were fighting.”
After awhile, it felt like they were fighting themselves.
“If we make the plays we’re supposed to make, we’d be fine,” receiver
Skelton finished 17-of-33 for 196 yards. But he fumbled the ball away on one sack and airmailed an interception when he tried to force a pass to tight end Stephen Spach, turnovers he had avoided in his first start.
Whisenhunt and Skelton both said the QB had some trouble with his reads – either missing open receivers, or throwing at the wrong time. That hurt especially since the Cardinals may have done their best job of the season making sure they were in manageable third-down situations, leading to another 4-for-15 conversion rate.
“We left a lot of plays on the field like we have in weeks past,” Skelton said. “(My reads) are coming along but I’m still a long way from where I want to be.”
Skelton did manage to connect with
The Cards’ lone touchdown even came in a backwards way, when
The Panthers’ running game also cost the Cards a passing TD against – safety
The Cardinals did have a small chance late, after Feely booted a field goal with a minute left in the game to pull within seven. But the Panthers jumped on his second onside attempt as well, not that it would have mattered, since the Cards were offside.
Now the Cardinals have a short week before hosting Dallas on Christmas night in the home finale. Draft order it the only thing left to decide. The Cards are dealing with that reality.
“We’re frustrated,” linebacker