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Carolina Panthers' Thomas Davis breaks arm in NFC Championship

By
The Sports Xchange
Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis reacts as he is interviewed by Terry Bradshaw after Carolina defeated the Arizona Cardinals 49-15 in the NFC championship football game at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina on January 24, 2016. Photo by Brian Westerholt/UPI
Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis reacts as he is interviewed by Terry Bradshaw after Carolina defeated the Arizona Cardinals 49-15 in the NFC championship football game at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina on January 24, 2016. Photo by Brian Westerholt/UPI | License Photo

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Carolina Panthers are headed to the Super Bowl, but the immediate questions might revolve around the team's health.

The team lost two veteran defenders to first-half injuries Sunday in the NFC Championship Game against the Arizona Cardinals.

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Safety Roman Harper went out with an eye injury in the second quarter. Shortly after, linebacker Thomas Davis departed with an injured right arm. Neither player returned to action in the Panthers' 49-15 victory Sunday night at Bank of America Stadium.

Davis, a Pro Bowl selection, is in his 11th NFL season. He said he has a broken arm.

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"We'll get it worked out and figured out, and I'll be ready (for the Super Bowl)," Davis said after the game.

Harper, a 10-year pro, said he had some vision problems after he was hit from behind by teammate Luke Kuechly.

The Panthers already lost cornerback Bene Benwikere to a late-season broken leg and cornerback Charles Tillman to a season-ending knee injury in the regular-season finale. Defensive end Jared Allen missed Sunday's game with a broken bone in his right foot.

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--Carolina quarterback Cam Newton's 1-yard scoring run in the second quarter Sunday marked his first rushing touchdown in postseason play.

"I knew today was going to be kind of a tricky thing, but I didn't want to do too much," Newton said. "I wanted to get the ball to the guys, but I knew I'd have opportunities as well."

Newton added a 12-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.

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Newton said the rewards are coming for the team, and he savors that.

"When we have turnouts like this, it makes it all worthwhile," he said. "We're not done. Our pen has a lot more ink left."

--Safety Kurt Coleman has been one of the unsung heroes for the Panthers this season. He added to his collection of big plays with an interception in the final minute of the first half Sunday.

He added another interception at the Carolina 1-yard line with 11:38 left in the game.

"We've been doing this all year," Coleman said, praising the working of the defensive front in applying pressure on quarterbacks. "It works hand in hand."

Coleman ranked third in the NFL regular season with seven interceptions, which was one shy of the team's single-season record.

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--Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer's four-interception, six-turnover performance in the NFC Championship Game was a miserable way to end his 13th season in the league.

Even though the Panthers replaced Newton with backup Derek Anderson late in the game, the Cardinals stuck with Palmer, who completed 23 of 40 passes for 235 yards.

"With my turnovers and just us not being able to come out of that hole, the lead just kind of snowballed and got out of control," Palmer said. "I kept digging us a hole that we just couldn't come out of. ... You've got to make something happen, and I didn't make it happen."

Arizona teammates said Palmer did so much throughout the season that should be appreciated.

"Carson is an older guy," defensive back Jerraud Powers said. "He understands the ups and downs of the game."

Palmer said so much work went into the season that the conclusion was difficult.

"It was about as bad a feeling as there is," he said.

--Carolina's defense led the NFL with 39 takeaways during the season, but collecting seven turnovers against the Cardinals seemed almost unfathomable.

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"We were able to put ourselves into position to make plays," Panthers coach Ron Rivera said. "Our guys flew around, they hustled. ... I thought our guys came with really good plans."

--Arizona looked like one of the NFL's elite teams for much of the season. The last three games weren't indicative of that.

The Cardinals were blowout victims against the Seattle Seahawks in the regular-season finale before needing a comeback and overtime to defeat the Green Bay Packers in the divisional playoff round.

Then came the sobering conclusion to the season. For coach Bruce Arians, there was a theme to the struggles.

"We're playing better teams, and we didn't bring our best game," he said.

--Michael Jordan, owner of the NBA's Charlotte Hornets, was in attendance for the NFC Championship Game. He and his entourage headed for a press-box exit elevator late in the third quarter.

The attendance was announced at 74,294 tickets distributed.

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