Coming in to Week 1 of the NFL season, there weren't high expectations for the Carolina Panthers or rookie quarterback Cam Newton. However, Newton and his Panthers gave the Cardinals all they could handle. After holding the Panthers inside the 10-yard line on fourth down and a punt return for a touchdown by Patrick Patrick as Arizona scored late on a Patrick Peterson punt return for a touchdown, the Cardinals held off the Panthers 28-21 at University of Phoenix Stadium.
The game was a series of dodged bullets for the Cardinals. Newton showed off his abilities with 422 passing yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He also scored a rushing touchdown. He Broke Peyton Manning's record for passing yards in a debut. Manning threw for 305 yards in his debut.
He found Steve Smith on numerous occasions, who was frequently matched up against Patrick Peterson, the Cardinals' first round pick in the 2011 draft. Smith caught both touchdowns and had eight receptions for 178 yards.
Kevin Kolb played a great game and showed that he is nothing like Derek Anderson or any other of the 2010 quarterbacks. He finished throwing 18-27 for 309 yards and two TDs. He was not picked off. He spread the ball around effectively. Eight players had receptions.
Beanie Wells had an effective game with 90 yards on the ground on 18 carries, but made a crucial error early in the game when he fumbled in the red zone.
The Cardinals defense struggled against the pass, as evidenced by the 422 passing yards allowed, but was solid in run defense. DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart combined for 56 total rushing yards on 19 carries.
This was supposed to be one of the Cardinals' easiest games on the schedule. It looked much harder than it should have been, but Cam Newton was much better than expected. They start out the season 1-0 like a year ago. Hopefully unlike last year they can build upon the win and improve.