CHARLOTTE, N.C. (CHARLOTTE SPORTS LIVE) – The Carolina Panthers failed to win back-to-back games yet again after losing the Arizona Cardinals 26-16 on Sunday night at Bank of America Stadium.

The last time they won back-to-back games was Week 3 of the 2021 NFL season.

“That was a game we had a chance to win,” said head coach Matt Rhule. “Third and fourth down continues to be an issue for us.”

The team came off a 22-14 win against the New Orleans Saints; the game ball was given to Rhule.

The Panthers honored Hall of Fame linebacker Sam Smith at halftime of the game, after an entire career with the Panthers.

THE GAME

Most of the first quarter (the first six drives) resulted in either punts or turnovers for both teams. It was on the Cardinals’ fourth drive that the Panthers drew first blood.

Linebacker Frankie Luvu intercepted Kyler Murray and took it to the house for a 33-yard pick-six, giving the Panthers a 7-0 lead with 12:13 to play in Q2.

The Cardinals struck back with an 8-play 80-yard drive with 3:34 in Q2 that ended in a 33-yard Matt Prater field goal.

The Panthers ended the half with an Evan Pineiro 54-yard field goal, pushing the lead 10-3.

Arizona scored first in the second, after a 9-play, 89-yard drive led to a Zach Ertz 2-yard touchdown catch, tying the game at 10-all with 7:42 to play in Q3.

They added another three points on an elongated 15-play, 57-yard drive that lasted nine minutes and 26 seconds; Carolina held them in the red zone.

The score was 13-10, 11:22 left in Q4, Cardinals up.

The game got out of hand quickly when J.J. Watt swatted a Mayfield pass into the air the following drive, resulting in an interception.

Arizona topped that turnover off with a Murray touchdown run. Cardinals, 20-10, 10:26 to play. They scored another on a 23-yard pass to Hollywood Brown. That gave them a 26-10 lead with 7:37.

Carolina worked on bouncing back and did so with a 13-yard McCaffrey catch and run to cut the lead to 16.

However, time eventually ran out on the Panthers, as James Conner kept running the ball down the middle until triple zeros struck.

The Panthers will play the San Fransico 49ers next Sunday at 4:05 p.m.

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