The Carolina Panthers are moving on in the playoffs -- thanks to the most suffocating defensive effort ever in a playoff game.
The Panthers harassed Arizona third-string quarterback Ryan Lindley all game Saturday and held the Cardinals under 100 yards in a dominant, 27-16 victory on a wet, misty evening at Bank of America Stadium.
The Panthers (8-8-1) will travel to either No. 1 seed Seattle or second-seed Green Bay in the divisional round, depending on Sunday's other NFC wild-card game. If Dallas beats Detroit, the Panthers will face the Seahawks.
If Detroit upsets the Cowboys, the Panthers will head north to Green Bay.
It will be tough for the Panthers to top their defensive performance from Saturday.
With Lindley getting the start following injuries to No. 1 quarterback Carson Palmer and backup Drew Stanton, the Panthers held Arizona (11-6) to 77 yards, the fewest ever in a postseason game.
The previous record was held by the Cleveland Browns, who had 86 yards in playoff loss to the Giants on Dec. 21, 1958.
The Panthers sacked Lindley four times and intercepted him twice.
Carolina racked up 394 yards and 25 first downs, the most in their playoff history, while limiting the Cardinals to 8 first downs.
Arizona had 97 yards before losing 20 on the final play when they had multiple laterals and ended up going in reverse.
It was the Panthers' first playoff victory since a divisional-round win against Chicago on Jan. 15, 2006, and avenged a 33-13 defeat to Arizona in the divisional round on Jan. 10, 2009.
With the Panthers trailing 14-13, momentum changed with a seemingly innocuous decision by Ron Rivera to punt in Cardinals' territory midway through the third quarter rather than let Graham Gano try a 55-yard field goal.
Brad Nortman pinned the Cards at their 8, and after a three-and-out, another poor punt by Drew Butler gave the Panthers possession at the Arizona 39.
On first down, seldom-used running back Fozzy Whittaker took a swing pass from Newton, changed directions and sprinted in for a 39-yard touchdown the put the Panthers up 20-14 with 5:36 left in the third quarter.
Former Panthers return specialist Ted Ginn fumbled after bringing the ensuing kickoff out from 8 yards deep in the end zone. Melvin White caused the fumble, and former North Carolina linebacker Kevin Reddick recovered at the Cardinals' 4.
A pass interference penalty on safety Tony Jefferson against tight end Greg Olsen gave the Panthers first-and-goal at the 1. And Newton's 1-yard pass to fullback tight end Mike Tolbert increased the lead to 27-14 with 4:04 remaining in the third quarter.
It was two touchdowns in a span of one minute, 22 seconds, and the Panthers never looked back.
The Panthers forced the Cardinals to go three-and-out on Arizona's first two possessions, then took advantage of two short Drew Butler punts to grab a 10-0 lead.
Butler's first two punts covered 20 and 28 yards, allowing the Panthers to start their first two drives at the Arizona 48 and Carolina 43, respectively.
After picking up one first down, the Panthers' initial drive stalled and Graham Gano came on for a 47-yard field goal.
Jonathan Stewart's 13-yard touchdown run put the Panthers up 10-0 with 5:21 left in the first quarter, and Carolina appeared to have all the momentum.
But they gave it up with two turnovers and a costly penalty, allowing the Cards to take a 14-13 halftime lead despite being outgained 208 to 65 in total yardage in the first half.
With the Cardinals punting after Stewart's touchdown, Brenton Bersin fumbled after failing to get out of the way of Butler's rolling punt. The ball hit Bersin after he'd dropped to his knees to field it, and the Cardinals took over at the Carolina 30.
An unnecessary roughness penalty on defensive end Charles Johnson against Lindley moved the Cards to the 15. And after Lindley found Larry Fitzgerald for a 14-yard completion, Lindley hit tight end Darren Fells on a play-action pass for a 1-yard touchdown to bring Arizona to within 10-7.
But another takeaway by the Cardinals -- who were among the league leaders in interceptions and turnover margin during the regular season -- gave Arizona a second short field.
Cornerback Antonio Cromartie picked off Newton after wideout Jerricho Cotchery cut his route short in a miscommunication between him and Newton. Cromartie raced 50 yards on the return before Newton pushed him out at the Panthers' 17.