The Associated Press
TEMPE Ÿ Arizona coach Buddy Ryan said yesterday there's no truth in reports that he has discussed a contract buyout with Cardinals owner Bill Bidwill.
Meanwhile, several key players blamed their teammates for the embarrassing loss to the Carolina Panthers.
''Certain guys that Buddy brought in and depended on just aren't getting the job done,'' said middle linebacker Eric Hill, who made 27 tackles in the 27-7 defeat at the hands of an expansion team.
Aeneas Williams returned a blocked field goal 72 yards for Arizona's third defensive touchdown of the season.
The rest of the game was a statistical wasteland for the Cardinals (3-8) Ÿ a 40-year low of 96 yards total offense, six sacks allowed, seven first downs, and a third straight loss that entombed the franchise in its 11th consecutive non-winning season.
The Panthers controlled the ball nearly 38 minutes and got 180 yards rushing out of the likes of Howard Griffith, Blair Thomas and Anthony Johnson.
''Each individual is going to be evaluated from here on out,'' Hill said. ''The best we can do is go .500, and if a lot of guys think Buddy's head is on the chopping block, they need to start thinking again, because I think their head's on the chopping block.''
Hill, who had 22 solo tackles in the most prolific defensive performance in modern Cardinals history, declined to name teammates who weren't carrying the load, but said most of them play offense.
Other than quarterback Dave Krieg, the most noted offensive acquisitions were left tackle Larry Tharpe and left guard Duval Love, the only lineman to start at the same position all 11 games. Starters Bernard Dafney and Cecil Gray weren't even on the roster in training camp.
''It makes it hard anytime you lose some continuity," Krieg said.
He said the only way to approach games now that the playoffs are out of reach is aggressively: ''I don't think you punt now. You just go out there and go for it.''
Larry Centers, a sixth-year veteran who holds the franchise record for a running back with 77 receptions, had 61 catches in 10 games and just three Sunday. He said he was frustrated about being ignored in the offense.
Still, Centers continues to believe in Ryan.
''I'm losing a little bit of my enthusiasm after losing so much,'' said Centers, whose contract expires after the 1996 season. ''I want to stay here as long as Buddy Ryan. I really feel like he's going to put a winner on the field. But if Buddy leaves, then I'm probably going to want to go somewhere else.''
During the review of game films, Ryan made players on offense, defense and special teams focus on what other units did.
He said the team was prepared to win.
''The preparation was there, but you've got to do it. They (coaches) can't play for them,'' Ryan said.
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