Both Cam Newton and Kevin Kolb looked impressive at times in their first action of the 2011 NFL season. Newton completed two touchdown passes to Steve Smith to give the Carolina Panthers a 14-7 halftime lead over the Arizona Cardinals.
Newton did a good job moving in the pocket reacting to pressure. On his first scoring play, he reacted to a blitz and found a wide open Steve Smith for a 77-yard touch down. At the end of the half, Newton was once again able get enough time in the pocket to find Smith in the end zone for a 26-yard completion. Rookie Patrick Peterson had good coverage but Smith ripped the ball down to complete the score.
Kolb did a good job finding a variety of receivers to engineer an early scoring drive. The Cardinals put together two other long drives into the red zone but both were ended by mistakes. The first was killed by a Bean Wells fumble at the Panther 10-yard line. On the second, the Cardinals were pushed back by a 15-yard penalty on Andre Roberts and then saw Jay Feely miss a 36-yard field goal attempt.
There were positive signs for the Arizona offense that totaled 206 yards with a good mix of running and passing. Wells had ten carries for 71 yards. Kold spread the ball around finding seven different targets, with Todd Heap leading the way with 40 yards on two completions. Larry Fitzgerald finished the half with 28 yards on two catches.
Kevin Kolb was 12-15 for 139 yards and took two sacks. Cam Newton was 9-13 for 198 yards with two touchdowns and also took two sacks. He ran for 11 yards.
The Cardinals are very much in this game if they can clean up the mistakes and not give up any more big plays. Newton and the Panthers offensive line have shown they can handle the blitz and make the Cardinals pay.
For more on this game, visit Revenge of the Birds.