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5 things to know after Cardinals top Panthers 22-6

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GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP)

Seven sacks, three interceptions and a lost fumble.

Cam Newton had a miserable Sunday in Arizona.

The Cardinals shut down Carolina's running game and zeroed in on Newton. The result was a 22-6 victory over the Panthers.

Arizona celebrated the return of Pro Bowl inside linebacker Daryl Washington from a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. Washington had two sacks and an interception.

''Man that guy is special,'' defensive end Calais Campbell said. ''It felt really good to see him back out there. That guy makes everybody else around him better because he's so good that people have to concentrate on him and it makes all our jobs easier.''

Campbell had two sacks, one for a safety and one to force a fumble that clinched the victory. Karlos Dansby also had two sacks and an interception, and Patrick Peterson had a pick.

Here are five things to know from Arizona's' victory:

CARDINALS ARE LIVING OFF THE `D': For the second week in a row, defense kept the Cardinals close, then the offense made enough plays to pull out the victory.

Carolina came in with the No. 3 rushing offense in the league, but Arizona held the Panthers to 95 yards, 21 in the second half.

That allowed Arizona to focus on Newton.

''We wanted to stop the run first and foremost,'' Washington said, ''make sure that when he (Newton) ran the ball, we were going to be able to tackle the guy. He's a big guy, and I kind of wrapped him around his waist to try to get him down.''

The Cardinals, who play at San Francisco next Sunday, know they are nowhere near as good as they can be.

''Yeah, I think our defense can be very special,'' Campbell said, ''but we still made too many mistakes.''

PETERSON LEADS THE DEFENSE: He's only in his third NFL season, but Patrick Peterson is the leader of the Arizona defense.

That was apparent at halftime, when he lit into his teammates for what he felt was an insufficient effort.

''I thought we gave them too many plays on first down,'' Peterson said. ''They were pretty much running everything we saw in practice all week. We didn't do a great job. We had a couple of busts in the secondary, which is unusual for us. We weren't communicating the way we should.''

He said he felt, as a defensive captain, it was up to him to say something.

''I had to get the guys going,'' Peterson said. ''So we came out in the second half and played much better, much smarter Cardinal football and took the ball away and came out with a victory.''

Arizona outscored Carolina 19-0 in the second half.

PANTHERS CAN'T BUILD ON GIANT WIN: Two weeks ago, Carolina routed the New York Giants 38-0. Then the Panthers had a bye last week to prepare for Arizona.

They came out west and fell flat.

''It doesn't have anything to do with the Giants,'' defensive end Greg Hardy said. ''It's a day-to-day thing. Nobody was high off that win - maybe the fans or something like that.''

The Panthers won't go back to Carolina thinking about the win against the Giants, Hardy said, ''We're going to come home and say we didn't do our job.''

ARIZONA'S OFFENSE STILL SPUTTERING: The Cardinals are still sputtering on offense, enough so that Larry Fitzgerald wasn't prepared to savor the victory.

''The win keeps you sane,'' he said, ''but we have to get better.''

Carson Palmer threw three interceptions and said two of them came when he tried to force the ball to Fitzgerald.

''You want to get him catches. You want to get him involved,'' Palmer said. ''You want to get him touches, but I cannot force the ball to him to get those touches. I just need to do a better job spreading the ball around.''

CAROLINA DROPPED TOO MANY: The Panthers dropped four passes, two of them by the usually reliable Steve Smith. The first of Smith's drops came on a slant play that would have been a touchdown in the first half. Instead, Carolina had to settle for a 22-yard field goal.

''That's not Smithy, I know that,'' Newton said. ''We all know that, but it happens.''

Coach Ron Rivera said the drops were just part of a pattern that developed throughout the long afternoon.

''You have to make plays, especially in critical situations and circumstances,'' he said. ''We have to protect the quarterback better. We have to make better decisions as far as the quarterback is concerned as well. So there's a lot of things that we have to correct, and there's a lot of blame to go around for everybody.

---

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

Tagged: Giants, Panthers, Cardinals, Steve Smith Sr., Calais Campbell, Daryl Washington, Cam Newton, Patrick Peterson

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