• My Scores
  • MLB
  • NFL
  • Golf

Arizona at Carolina

Panthers top Cardinals to end seven-game skid

CBSSports.com wire reports
  •  

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Over nine seasons as coach of the Carolina Panthers, John Fox has made it a point to hide his emotions behind an avalanche of cliches, guarded answers and a tough guy persona.

Sunday was different.

Cardinals-Panthers
Related links
Video

Minutes after his league-worst Panthers celebrated the end of a seven-game losing streak with a hard-to-watch, but quite gratifying 19-12 win over the punchless Arizona Cardinals, Fox took a minute to soak in what was almost certainly his final home game on the job.

Securing an overall winning regular-season record, Fox left the field with his arms raised and fists clenched. He then hustled to the locker room, where captain Jordan Gross was waiting to hand him the game ball.

"We develop a lot of relationships here. There are a lot of high character guys in that locker room that I appreciate," Fox said. "It means a lot to me."

Later, Fox quickly grabbed a water bottle as he appeared to be on the verge of choking up.

"It was an emotional day," he acknowledged.

Denied a contract extension the past two years and seemingly at odds with the offseason roster-gutting that left the Panthers (2-12) short on talent and experience, Fox is coaching out the string in the last year of his deal.

This time, his youngsters came through for him in a performance that was just good enough to beat a similarly dysfunctional unit. And it didn't even hurt Carolina's draft positioning, as Cincinnati also won to keep the Panthers a game up in the race for the No. 1 overall pick.

Jimmy Clausen outplayed John Skelton in a matchup of rookie quarterbacks, throwing his first touchdown pass since Oct. 3. John Kasay kicked four field goals and Jonathan Stewart rushed for 137 yards.

CBSSports.com Grades
Arizona Cardinals
Arizona Cardinals
F
With a chance to keep their playoff hopes alive, the Cardinals got physically beat by the Panthers for the seventh straight time in the regular season. John Skelton struggled to find his way completing just 17 of 33 passes for 196 yards. Again, the Cardinals had no TDs.
Carolina Panthers
Carolina Panthers
B
Jonathan Stewart ran for 137 yards on 27 carries and the Panthers racked up 177 yards on the ground giving coach John Fox a win in his final home game at Bank of America Stadium. Jimmy Clausen snapped a streak of 202 passes without a TD.
By Steve Reed
RapidReports Correspondent

Give us your grades on Twitter

Arizona (4-10), which was finally eliminated from playoff contention in the weak NFC West, mustered 43 yards rushing in their eighth loss in nine games. In his second start, Skelton threw an interception and lost a fumble.

"I think it's just forcing the ball sometimes," Skelton said. "I threw an interception on a ball that should have never gone to [Stephen] Spach. Those are plays that at a lower level, you can get away with. But when you come here they are going to make plays on defense."

The Cardinals got within 19-9 when Steve Breaston recovered teammate Tim Hightower's fumble in the end zone with 5:41 left. The 2-point conversion failed.

Arizona got a late field goal with 54 seconds left. But the Cardinals, who failed to recover a surprise onside kick to start the second half, saw Carolina's Jordan Senn recover their second try to seal Carolina's victory.

It was then that Gross told the equipment manager to save the game ball.

"I gave it to Fox. It was neat because he's given out a lot of game balls and he's not a guy that really talks about his own accolades and things," Gross said. "I think it meant a lot to him."

The game served as a painful reminder of how far and how quickly these franchises have sunk thanks to poor quarterback play. Less than two years ago the Cardinals forced six turnovers by Jake Delhomme in a 33-13 rout of the Panthers in the NFC divisional playoffs on their way to a surprise Super Bowl appearance.

Clausen was good enough get his first win in eight tries, completing 13 of 19 passes for 141 yards and no turnovers. Stewart took advantage of the league's 30th-ranked rushing defense, and Carolina pounced on Arizona's mistakes.

Skelton, a fifth-round pick from Fordham who got the job with Derek Anderson (concussion) sidelined, didn't get the help he received a week earlier, when the ground game and special teams dominated in a 43-13 win over Denver.

Skelton's interception led to a TD and a 13-0 deficit. He finished 17-of-33 for 196 yards.

"It seems every time we had a chance to do something, we made mistakes," coach Ken Whisenhunt said, "whether it was turnovers, running into the kicker, our onside kick was short."

Leading 6-0, the Panthers caught a break when Skelton inexplicably floated a pass into double coverage toward Spach that was easily intercepted by Sherrod Martin. On the next play, Clausen found an open Jeff King for a 16-yard touchdown, ending Clausen's streak of 202 passes without a TD.

By batting down a pass in the end zone on third down and recovering Skelton's fumble, Tyler Brayton led a solid Carolina defensive effort hours after the news he was fined $15,000 for leveling Atlanta's Chris Owens from off the field on a punt return in a 31-10 loss last week.

Those kind of days had become commonplace in a miserable season. It made Sunday that much more satisfying on an emotional day that still had its limits. Fox dismissed a suggestion he got sentimental on the drive to the stadium.

"I'm not quite that soft," he said.

Notes

  • Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald, 27, caught nine passes for 125 yards to go over 8,000 yards receiving. Only Randy Moss reached the milestone at a younger age.
  • Cardinals KR LaRod Stephens-Howling left with a hamstring injury. Replacement Andre Roberts had a 47-yard return.
  • Panthers CB Chris Gamble sat out with an ankle injury.
  • Panthers DE Charles Johnson had a sack for a fifth straight game.
Copyright 2016 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
COMMENTS
Conversation powered by Livefyre

Related Video

Sun. Dec. 19Final
Arizona
(4-10)
030912
Carolina
(2-12)
676019
CardinalsPanthers
Pass: J. Skelton (17-33, 196) J. Clausen (13-19, 141)
Rush: T. Hightower (6-16) J. Stewart (27-137)
Rec: L. Fitzgerald (9-125) B. LaFell (3-33)
Scoring Summary
1ST QUARTER
FGJohn Kasay, 28 Yd, 10:22. Drive: 6 plays, 57 yards in 2:27.
FGJohn Kasay, 29 Yd, 0:14. Drive: 14 plays, 80 yards in 6:42.
2ND QUARTER
TDJeff King, 16 Yd pass from Jimmy Clausen (John Kasay kick is good), 8:42. Drive: 1 play, 16 yards in 0:07.
FGJay Feely, 23 Yd, 0:36. Drive: 12 plays, 46 yards in 4:19.
3RD QUARTER
FGJohn Kasay, 24 Yd, 12:12. Drive: 6 plays, 31 yards in 2:48.
FGJohn Kasay, 43 Yd, 0:27. Drive: 10 plays, 21 yards in 6:29.
4TH QUARTER
TDSteve Breaston, 0 Yd fumble return (Tim Hightower Run for 2 Pt. Conversion failed), 5:41.
FGJay Feely, 30 Yd, 0:54. Drive: 6 plays, 60 yards in 0:55.

CBSSports Shop

Men's New Era Navy Los Angeles Rams NE Speed Training Mesh 9FORTY Adjustable Hat

NFL Training Camp Gear
Get yours today!
Shop Now

Players of the Game

J. Clausen
Att 19
Comp 13
Yds 141
TD 1
Arizona

L. Fitzgerald
Rec 9
Yds 125
Avg 13.9
TD 0
 
Arizona
PassingCP/ATYDSTDINT
J. Skelton17/3319601
RushingATTYDSTDLG
T. Hightower61604
B. Wells81107
J. Skelton21006
L. Stephens-Howling1606
ReceivingRECYDSTDLG
L. Fitzgerald9125041
S. Breaston242035
T. Hightower31205
E. Doucet1808
S. Spach1707
L. Stephens-Howling1202
Carolina
PassingCP/ATYDSTDINT
J. Clausen13/1914110
RushingATTYDSTDLG
J. Stewart27137035
M. Goodson102109
J. Clausen51408
T. Fiammetta3503
ReceivingRECYDSTDLG
B. LaFell333017
D. Gettis332029
M. Goodson227021
S. Smith222012
J. King116116
D. Rosario1909
J. Stewart1202
Complete Player Stats
Other Games
SF 7 Final
SD 34
NO 24 Final
BAL 30
CLE 17 Final
CIN 19
WAS 30 Final
DAL 33
JAC 24 Final
IND 34
BUF 17 Final
MIA 14
PHI 38 Final
NYG 31
KC 27 Final
STL 13
DET 23 Final
TB 20
HOU 17 Final
TEN 31
ATL 34 Final
SEA 18
DEN 23 Final
OAK 39
NYJ 22 Final
PIT 17
GB 27 Final
NE 31
CHI 40 Final
MIN 14