Panthers with ‘circle the wagons’ effort get needed win over Cardinals

Cardinals’ John Skelton is sacked by Carolina Panthers’ Sherrod Martin and Nic Harris

CHARLOTTE – In what appeared to be a “circle the wagons” effort, the Carolina Panthers ended the home phase of their 2010 season as a winner.

And in the process of coming away as 19-12 victors, in a duel opposite the Arizona Cardinals Sun. (Dec.19), at Bank of America Stadium, the 2-12 Panther gave coach John Fox something positive to remember in what was likely his final game patrolling the Carolina sideline, in the Uptown section of the Queen City of North Carolina.

In besting Arizona by 7, Fox’s Panthers halted a seven game losing streak; and in doing so got their first win since Oct. 24, when they defeated the San Francisco 49ers 23-20, in the Tar Heel State.

En route to downing Ken Whisenhunt’s ‘Cards (4-10), the triumphant home players utilized close to a balance attack in front of what was another small crowd that witnessed the National Football Conference (NFC) duel, in cold weather conditions.

Spearheaded by a rushing attack that totalled 177 yards on 45 trips into the line of scrimmage, the Panthers, with an additional 126 yards coming via the 13 of 19 passing of rookie quarterback Jimmy Clausen, finished the day with 303 total net yards.

Meanwhile, on the defensive side of the ledger, the Carolina stop troopers limited the Cardinals “O” players to just 218 yards of total offense.

Standing in front of his locker, in the aftermath of what he termed a “solid” win that gave them much hope for the future, in spite of what appears to be Fox’s last stand as the Panthers coach, Jon Beason talked about intensity and focus.

“All game long today, we seemed to be more focused and on the ball,” said the Carolina linebacker, defensive signal caller. “To tell you the truth, I liked the intensity we played with. We got after them good, for the most part; and this helped us to control the game.

“But it is always good when you can force your will on another team. We did this a lot today, on both sides of the ball against a team that had some momentum coming in here.”

Then in responding about getting the win for Coach Fox, as well, Beason added, “Winning any game is good but to get this one for Coach Fox was special for all of us as players.”

Meeting reporters during his usual postgame chat, Fox, in commenting about whether all that happened (to-date) in the current campaign could be attached to a youth movement that the Panthers continue to experience, downplayed that question.

“I don’t know; it’s hard to say,” Fox said, in responding to the aforementioned question. “So many things have happened to us (this season). But I don’t want to use that (youth movement) as an excuse (for what we did or didn’t do this season).”

In replying to the youth movement query, Mike Goodson didn’t hesitate to put it aside as a reason for the current record of the Panthers.

“I think that has little to do with it,” said the Carolina runningback, who is a second year pro out of Texas A&M. “We just need to work harder (to get better as a team).”

Offered offensive tackle Jordan Gross about the win over the Cardinals and what it means to the Panthers, “In this locker room is a team with a lot of pride; and this win over Arizona couldn’t have come at a better time.”