The Carolina Panthers are just one win away from capping their fairytale season off with the franchise's first Super Bowl title after dismantling the visiting Arizona Cardinals 49-15 in Sunday night's NFC Championship Game.
Carolina will square off with the AFC champion Denver Broncos two weeks from today at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California. The Broncos held off the New England Patriots in Denver today, intercepting a two-point conversion attempt by New England QB Tom Brady to finish off a 20-18 win.
This is the second Super Bowl appearance for the Panthers since their inception in 1995 -- with their first being a 32-29 loss to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVIII.
Arizona's offense did nothing of note over their first four drives, punting three times and losing a fumble. On the other side, the Panthers cashed in for 17 points on their first three possessions to jump out to a three-possession lead -- an ultimately insurmountable mountain for an out-of-sync Cardinals squad. More on this game in the Chat Sports iPhone and Android apps.
The first touchdown of the day came on Carolina's second drive, as Ted Ginn fooled EVERYONE on a 22-yard TD scamper off a reverse.
Following an Arizona punt, Cam Newton turned on the big play charm -- hitting WR Philly Brown for a scintillating 86-yard touchdown.
That passing TD connection is the longest in a conference championship game since Green Bay's Brett Favre found Donald Driver for a 90-yard score back in 2007.
Arizona would finally cash in with a ten-play, 79-yard touchdown drive in the middle of the second quarter -- punctuated by a short TD run by rookie RB David Johnson. However, Carolina would roll off another 17 unanswered points between the second and third quarters to put the game out of reach at 34-7. Quotes from tonight's postgame pressers inside the Chat Sports iPhone and Android apps.
The real backbreaker was a muffed punt by Arizona CB Patrick Peterson with under five minutes to go in the second half. It led to a Carolina recovery, a short field and an eventual TD scramble by Cam Newton.
Arizona would cut the deficit to 19 at the beginning of the fourth quarter on a 25-yard TD pass from Carson Palmer to David Fells. However, it was way too little way too late for an Arizona offense that coughed the ball up seven times with three lost fumbles and four interceptions.
Carson Palmer was responsible for six of those turnovers, including the aforementioned pick, two strip sacks, this awful interception on an ill-advised fourth quarter heave...
...and a late interception returned by Luke Kuechly for a touchdown...
and YET another by Carolina's Tre Boston with time winding down.
He was harassed by Carolina's elite pass rush all night long, leaving him completely off-kilter and out of rhythm in what was a nightmarish night in his first road playoff game.
On the other side, Cam Newton's likely NFL MVP campaign continued with two passing touchdowns (the second coming in garbage time to Devin Funchess), two rushing scores and 382 total yards of offense. Prior to tonight, Arizona had given up just one rushing touchdown to a quarterback this season/postseason.
However, while Newton will get plenty of deserved plaudits, it was the chaos the team's defense created against one of the league's best offenses which has Carolina just a win away from the top of the NFL mountain. Track Carolina's NFC Championship celebration in the Chat Sports Android and iPhone apps.Back to the Carolina Panthers Newsfeed