A running diary of the NFC Divisional playoff game between the Arizona Cardinals and the Carolina Panthers
OK, OK, OK, enough already. The Panthers are supposed to win. Win big. It’s raining in Charlotte, Anquan Boldin is banged-up and should be limited, and after having to rally past the Cards earlier in the season, the Panthers should be a different team than that one, which played without offensive studs Jeff Otah and Jordan Gross.
But we’ll see. The dirty little secret about the Panthers is that they give up leads either late or very early. Either way, they seem to usually always fall behind. That can’t happen this time of year.
7:51 p.m. Boldin has deactivated. Good news for the Panthers — and me.
8:04 p.m. OK, that officially did it. It’s over. Done and Done.
I’m officially through with Frank Caliendo. Thanks for playing.
Please move on Fox. Now. Please. Please.
And I don’t mean from this horrible skit. I mean, move on from Caliendo forever. It’s tired.
8:10 p.m. Wait, Moose Johnson just reminded me that the Cards are 3-1 without Boldin this year. Bad news for the Panthers — and me.
Kickoff The Panthers returns the opening kick to midfield. Nice start there. For a minute I thought Mark Jones was gone and jumped out of my seat.
Gonna be a long night.
12:52 A 31-yard run to the Cards’ 9 for DeAngelo Williams. YEAH!!!!!!
12:00 Jonathan Stewart virtually untouched for the touchdown.
I’m insufferable right now. You don’t want to be near me.
11:56 Can Panthers’ kickers stop kicking the ball out of bounds in big games?
9:54 A shout-out to my buddy Mike Laney. He said there’d be a Damione Lewis sack tonight. Big one there as the Cards were driving.
7:07 Panthers can’t pick up a 3rd-and-2 inside their own 20. Ugh.
5:01 That’s why the Cards are so darn scary. Third-and-1, and Warner rolls out and fires a 41-yard bomb to Larry Fitzgerald to the Panthers’ 10. C’mon, hold ’em to 3.
2:47 Too, too easy. Easy pass to Tim Hightower for the 3-yard score. Lousy, lousy defense that series. 7-7.
2:43 Nice one, Jake. Fumble, and the Cards are set up inside the 15. Um, hold ‘em to 3.
1:51 Edgerrin James for the 4-yard TD.
Yup, gonna be a long night. 14-7, Cards.
:17 The Panthers should do this at least five times a game: throw the ball deep to Steve Smith. He can make the ridiculous catch, but he can also draw the pass interference, which he does here. It’s a 45-yard penalty and the Panthers are to the Cards’ 15.
14:47 Look, Jake, if you plan on playing tonight, let us all know. Delhomme throws a terrible pick in the end zone. This is every Panthers’ fan fear: Delhomme blowing it with one of his “Bad Jake” games.
12:52 Not only is the Panthers’ defense getting blown off the ball, now it’s playing dumb football, too. Should’ve had 3rd-and-2 at midfield coming up, instead Richard Marshall is flagged for unnecessary roughness for a 15-yard flag. Dumb, dumb football.
10:21 Neil Rackers hits from 49 yards and it’s 17-7. Typical Panthers football. They’ve won this year, but it’s been frustrating to watch. I’d settle for that tonight, too, though. Ten points thanks to Jake Delhomme.
I thought I was insufferable earlier. But now you really don’t want to be near me.
9:24 A series that starts 1st-and-5 finishes 4th-and-7. This is horrible.
7:51 Cards look impeccably prepared while Panthers look lost. Kurt Warner is shredding them.
5:32 Another 3 for the Cards and it’s 20-7 after another easy drive. Panthers better score here or it’s darn near over.
A few thoughts from my buddy Mike, who just e-mailed to keep from jumping off the roof of his house:
“OK, here are a few thoughts:
*What’s lost in the Jake crapping himslef is the horrible play-calling on the series we got the ball the 2nd time at our 10. They even took Moose out of the game on third down telling everyone it was a run on 3rd-and-3. That set up the punt and gave them good position again.
*We looked good on the blitz before the Rackers FG, why not mix that in here and there?
*Somebody get a big hit on Warner quickly and break the momentum.”
5:22 That’s it. It’s over. He’s Bad Jake tonight. Another horrible — and horrible in the Bill Walton sense of the world — interception. Who was that to?
3:41 Sorry, but how in the hell does a linebacker end up covering Fitzgerald? Touchdown, and this is over. 27-7.
That’s 17 points charged to Delhomme, Jake.
:00 And Rackers misses from 53 yards. Thank God.
Not that it matters.
All year long, we’ve figured that the Panthers were a team built for the playoffs because they had such a great running game.
Why then, did they abandon the run after the first series, and after Delhomme’s first interception down in the end zone? Why the panic?
Now it’s too late, and the game is gone.
Great coaching effort there, boys. Ken Whisenhunt and his staff for Arizona flat-out owned you tonight.
And the past tense there is intentional.
14:13 Cards pick up a 3rd-and-5 with a slant. Moving again.
The Panthers’ only chance is to get within two scores by the start of the fourth quarter.
12:18 Finally, some pressure on Warner and the Panthers force a punt. OK, well done.
But, like Ryan Sarda just texted me, stop with the celebrating until you pull off the miraculous comeback, OK Panthers?
12:05 Williams with a gain of 15. Novel idea there.
10:15 And the Panthers punt. Yawn.
9:19 FINALLY, A PLAY MADE BY THE DEFENSE!!!!!!!! Interception by Jon Beason. Now score.
8:28 A loss for Williams and then a false start. Unbelievable. Second-and-16.
8:06 No comebacks tonight. Another horrible pass by Delhomme leads to a tipped interception. That should do it.
We all hoped we wouldn’t see the Delhomme from the Oakland Raiders game ever again, but here he is.
Maybe this is a knee-jerk, but it might be time to draft a quarterback.
4:44 Rackers from 33. 30-7.
Mr. Delhomme, you owe us 20 points now.
4:40 It’s late in the third quarter and Delhomme is just 5-for-12. Twelve passes? Five completions? And three picks?
4:05 That has to be the worst fourth-down pass ever.
:52 And Smith gets his first reception of the game. Sigh.
15:00 Anybody remember Frank Reich and the Buffalo Bills?
Well, you see, what happened was the Houston Oilers took this huge lead and Reich… oh, never mind.
Oh Lord, they’re interrupting the game to introduce winners from the Punt, Pass and Kick Contest.
Insert Obvious “Get Pass Winner In There For Jake” here.
14:11 How? How? How do you get a delay of game penalty in the hurry-up when down four touchdowns? How?
14:04 I wish I could buy stock in things like “Delhomme will throw an interception in the end zone.”
13:59 Please Cards, just run the ball and put us out of our misery.
13:17 Good line from Sarda: “Imagine if there was a drinking game based on Delhomme’s interceptions.”
11:47 From my buddy Mike, who’s also a die-hard Cubs fan and somebody who’s been through the wars with me before: “I have visions of Leon Durham, Will Clark, Alex Gonzalez, Adam Vinatieri, Lofa Tatupo, Stephen Drew, Ted Lilly spiking his glove, James Loney, DeRo kicking the DP ball, and now interception palooza at B of A Stadium. I think that about sums up my playoff history.”
All Cubs and Panthers fans just nodded in agreement.
11:29 A screen pass to Stewart. You couldn’t have tried that down 14-7?
10:54 OK, bench him already. No. 5.
10:22 Sarda texted earlier and said that Delhomme has reminded him of Brett Favre of recent playoff vintage with his play tonight. He added: “Now he’s getting frustrated like Favre. All he has to do now is run his coach out of town.”
6:19 It needs to be said that the Cardinals played a helluva game tonight. They were brilliantly prepared, Warner looked fantastic and Fitzgerald was everything Panthers’ fans wished Smith would’ve been tonight. I’m officially rooting for Warner and Co. to go all the way now. He’s apparently signed an extension to his original Faustian deal with the devil for an insane NFL career out of nowhere, so I hope he wins it all again.
And besides, he’s married to Ma’am from Webster. How cool is that? Update on Ma’am.
3:24 Five picks in 25 attempts. Delhomme has been intercepted on 20 percent of his throws!
3:11 Please don’t send Jake back out there. Please.
2:57 What’s it feel like to be a Panthers’ fan right now?
An e-mail from my buddy Fisher:
Quarterbacks projected to be available in Round 2 of the 2009 NFL Draft:
Josh Freeman, QB, Kansas State
Nate Davis, QB, Ball State
Graham Harrell, QB, Texas Tech
Nathan Brown, Central Arkansas
Coaches not under contract for 2009 who live within 2 hours of Charlotte, North Carolina:
:57 Delhomme to Smith for the touchdown.
:50 Panthers line up for the onside kick.
I’d say, “Why not? Stanger things have happened,” but they haven’t.
Ah, forget it.