Tolbert’s TD helps Panthers down Cardinals in playoffs

tolbertThe Carolina Panthers’ late-season surge continues into the playoffs, and former Coastal Carolina standout Mike Tolbert played a big role in their latest victory.

The Panthers scored two touchdowns in the span of 92 seconds late in the third quarter and went on to beat the Arizona Cardinals 27-16 in an NFC wild-card game on Saturday.

Quarterback Cam Newton hit running back Fozzy Whittaker on a 39-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown to give the Panthers a 20-14 lead with 5:36 remaining in the third quarter.

After an Arizona fumble on the ensuing kickoff, Newton found Tolbert out of the backfield on a 1-yard touchdown pass for a 27-14 lead with 4:04 left in the quarter.

From there, the Panthers relied on a stifling defense that allowed the Cardinals just 77 yards of total offense, an NFL record that led the Panthers to their fifth straight win.

Carolina had come on strong to win the NFC South despite a 7-8-1 regular-season record. Arizona, a wild card with an 11-5 record, ended the season with a three-game losing streak without the services of injured quarterbacks Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton.

Whittaker’s touchdown came on a screen pass. He weaved his way from the right sideline through four different Arizona defenders and eventually rambled down the left sideline.

The Panthers then went for the jugular after Arizona’s Ted Ginn fumbled the kickoff and Kevin Reddick recovered at the Arizona 3-yard line. They wound up giving the Cardinals a meaningless safety in the final minute.

Newton finished 18-of-32 passing for 198 yards and two touchdowns, with one interception. He also rushed seven times for 35 yards. Running back Jonathan Stewart rushed for 123 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries.

Photo courtesy of Carolina Panthers

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