GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Sitting on the bench at State Farm Stadium, having just tossed his second touchdown of the first half, Kyle Allen put into words exactly what everyone watching him was thinking:
"That was (expletive) beautiful."
Allen was referring to his 52-yard strike to D.J. Moore, who took a deep crossing route about 35 yards after the catch and into the end zone. It was weaving and winding as he navigated downfield blocks from Jarius Wright and Curtis Samuel at the exact right time.
So yeah, what he said.
But really, Allen's comment applies to much more than just that one throw.
The Panthers picked up their first win of the season on Sunday, out-matching the Arizona Cardinals, 38-20. It was a complete departure from Carolina's first two games of the season, a pair of disappointing losses ripe with self sabotage. Instead, against Arizona, there was no foot-shooting or "missed opportunities" to bemoan.
Make no mistake: The Panthers needed this win, and now. They needed it in the standings, to prevent an 0-3 start that almost certainly would have cratered their playoff chances. (Since 1980, only six of 176 teams to begin a season 0-3 have made the postseason). They needed it to keep pace in the NFC South, as they now find themselves just one game behind Tampa Bay and New Orleans. They needed it to be an umbrella for all the negative clouds that have honed in on Bank of America Stadium for the past year.
Most of all, they needed it because they needed hope.
After Sunday's offensive outburst, they have it.
It all starts with and circles back to Allen, the second-year backup tasked with filling in for an injured Cam Newton. Newton missed practice all this week after re-injuring his left foot against Tampa Bay, giving Allen a full week to prepare for his second career start. And considering his first came in Week 17 last year -- after New Orleans had already clinched home-field advantage in the playoffs and the Panthers were eliminated from contention -- this game carried more gravitas.