Panthers top Cardinals with quick scores, defense

Sat Jan 3, 2015 9:58pm EST
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(Reuters) - The Carolina Panthers scored twice in less than two minutes on Cam Newton touchdown passes in the third quarter and rode a powerful defense to a 27-16 win over the Arizona Cardinals in an NFC wildcard playoff game on Saturday.

The triumph was Newton's first playoff win and the first victory in the postseason for the Panthers since the 2005 season and it came largely thanks to Carolina's defense and a strong performance from their quarterback.

"I told my team-mates, no matter what, hell or high water I am going to give them everything I've got and that is what I tried to show today," Newton, who finished with 198 yards passing, two touchdowns and an interception, told reporters.

Carolina will now play at either the Green Bay Packers or the Seattle Seahawks in the divisional round next weekend.

The Cardinals, with third-string quarterback Ryan Lindley, were totally ineffective on offense and finished with 78 total yards, the fewest in NFL playoff history.

Lindley was playing in his first playoff game after injuries to starter Carson Palmer and replacement Drew Stanton earlier this season left the Cardinals with no choice but to go with the untested 25-year-old.

"We did the things we needed to but we caught them at a good time," conceded Panthers head coach Ron Rivera.

But his counterpart Bruce Arians refused to blame the injuries to his two quarterbacks for the loss.

"I never buy into that. We have to make gameplans to win games and ask players to do things they are capable of doing to win games. I never buy into injuries losing games," the Arizona coach said.   Continued...

Jan 3, 2015; Charlotte, NC, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) reacts during the fourth quarter against the Arizona Cardinals in the 2014 NFC Wild Card playoff football game at Bank of America Stadium. Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports