Looking back at last five Panthers-Cardinals clashes

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The Carolina Panthers' most lopsided victory of their inaugural 1995 season came at the expense of the Arizona Cardinals, then the teams didn't see each other for another six years.

They've certainly made up for lost time.

The teams will face off for the 15th time in the last 17 seasons Sunday, meaning the Panthers have faced Arizona more than any team that they've never shared a division with. Many of those early matchups weren't particularly memorable, but three of the last eight – including the last two – have been playoff showdowns.

Now in my seventh season with Panthers.com, this will mark my sixth Panthers-Cardinals game. Each one was noteworthy in its own way.

Panthers 19, Cardinals 12 (Dec. 19, 2010)

My first season with the Panthers – and head coach John Fox's last – was a struggle to say the least, but this was a good day. In Fox's final home game, the Panthers built a 19-3 lead and held on. Players presented Fox with the game ball afterwards, and it proved his last of his 73 victories (vs. 71 losses) in Carolina as the Panthers went on to finish 2-14. Too bad there wasn't another ball available to give to Jimmy Clausen, as this marked his first and only victory as Carolina's starting quarterback.

Cardinals 28, Panthers 21 (Sept. 11, 2011)

That 2-14 season opened up an opportunity for the Panthers to select No. 1 in the subsequent draft, and the player they picked opened some eyes in his NFL debut in the desert. After looking like a rookie but being tabbed over Clausen coming out of preseason, Cam Newton announced his arrival with a spectacular debut that featured everything but a victory. Newton threw for 422 yards – 120 more than a rookie ever had on opening weekend – and ran for a touchdown to give a glimpse of what was to come. The Panthers dropped a close decision, but it was clear from that day that Carolina made the right decision with the No. 1 pick.

Cardinals 22, Panthers 6 (Oct. 6, 2013)

The Panthers didn't respond well the last time they faced the Cardinals coming off a bye, but their response to the disappointment was strong to say the least. After bouncing back from an 0-2 start with a 38-0 demolition of the Giants, the Panthers appeared to lose all their momentum in a post-bye loss at Arizona. But it might have been a blessing in disguise because the Cardinals setback prompted head coach Ron Rivera to rethink some things. The next week at Minnesota, the legend that is now "Riverboat Ron" was born when the Panthers successfully went for two fourth downs early on, and that proved to be the beginning of an 11-1 finish to the regular season.

Panthers 27, Cardinals 16 (Jan. 3, 2015)

Speaking of rallies, the fact that Carolina was in position to host Arizona in an NFC Wild Card game again proved the power of perseverance. Seemingly out of it in 2014 with a 3-8-1 record, the Panthers won out to win a weak NFC South at 7-8-1. They then justified their playoff berth by taking care of the visiting Cardinals for the franchise's first postseason victory in nine years.

Panthers 49, Cardinals 15 (Jan. 24, 2016)

In one of the signature moments in Bank of America Stadium's history and in my personal history with the Panthers, Carolina hosted the NFC Championship for the first time and dominated from the start to earn a spot in Super Bowl 50. Newton scored twice through the air and on the ground, and the defense forced seven takeaways. The atmosphere was electric before, during and after the game.

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