Kyler Murray, DeAndre Hopkins can't carry a Cardinals defense this bad

4:37 PM ET

The Arizona Cardinals have the reigning rookie of the year at quarterback and one of the best wide receivers in football, but none of that matters when their defense plays like it did Sunday in a 31-21 loss to the Carolina Panthers.

Yes, Arizona was without its two starting safeties in All-Pro Budda Baker and Chris Banjo. And, yes, Panthers quarterback Teddy Bridgewater took advantage of that. But the rest of the Cardinals’ defense couldn’t slow down a mediocre Panthers offense that has been without its star running back, Christian McCaffrey.

In the first quarter, the Cardinals gave up third-down conversions of 7, 10, 1 and 8 yards, and a fourth-down conversion of 2 yards, which allowed the Panthers to keep two scoring drives alive and hold a 14-0 lead after the first quarter.

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Arizona’s offense struggled to get on the field. There was almost a 2-1 difference in time of possession in that first quarter. All of the Panthers’ five scoring drives were 60

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