Well, for the NFL season, Bloggers Domain founder and yours truly, topdawgizalaw* is going to be taking over the duties of writing about the Panthers games. But there are other teams, and that is why I need you, BD, to contribute by sending me blogs of other teams games so I can post them up here and leave nobody out. For now, here is the blog I wrote on Carolina's week 1 win.
Carolina sent the fans at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, MO, home unhappy Sunday afternoon, as the Panthers pulled off a 27-13 come-from-behind win over the hometown Saint Louis Rams.
It was not a pretty game. Despite Jake Delhomme's opening drive that concluded with a 10 yard pass to wide receiver Drew Carter, the Panthers looked sloppy early on. It did not help when Marc Bulger took the Rams down the field on their season-opening possession for the tying score. For the rest of the first half, the Panthers resembled the unsightly offensive team that they were to end the 2006 season. Anytime a drive got started, it quickly stalled, and fans were wondering if offensive coordinator Jeff Davidson was really that much of an improvement over ex-coordinator Dan Henning. Those feelings changed minutes into the second half. The Rams led 13-7 and were looking for more points in an effort to blow the game open when Steven Jackson fumbled the ball and Panthers' defensive end Julius Peppers piled on top of it to preserve order, after the previous possession Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams suffered the same fate. The offense did not hesitate to seize momentum, either. Delhomme showed his gun-slinger mentality the two plays later, completing a 68-yard touchdown bomb to wide receiver Steve Smith, who finished the game with 7 catches for 118 yards.
With that same 14-13 edge, Carolina was once again at the St. Louis goalline when Deshaun Foster lost a fumble, and momentum could have turned towards the home side. However, for the second straight possession, Jackson fumbled, this time cornerback Chris Gamble fell on the ball. Carolina converted a field goal, led 17-13 and held momentum the rest of the game. Drew Carter caught his second touchdown pass, a 9-yarder, and John Kasay made his second field goal attempt to put the game away, and the Panthers upset the Rams 27-13. The effort was not lost on the head coach of Carolina, who had been on the hot seat for the entire offseason.
"I thought it was a great game in all three phases," said head coach John Fox, who won a season opener for the first time since 2003. "I thought the coaches came up with excellent gameplans. We started off fast, went into a little funk there for a little bit and then the second half I thought we executed a lot better."
That execution Fox spoke of in the second half was reflected in the stats, as the Panthers outgaining the Rams 264-112 in the second stanza. The Panthers hold the early edge in the division, as all the other teams in the division suffered convincing week 1 defeats. (New Orleans got blown out 41-10 on Thursday, Atlanta could not conquer the Metrodome in their 24-3 spanking at the hands of the Vikings, and the Bucs lost to Seattle 20-6.)
It is early, but all looks good right now in Charlotte. Delhomme established himself as the rightful holder of the starting job, to backup David Carr's chagrin. Delhomme was 18 of 27 for 201 yards and three scores. Drew Carter stepped up with his two scores on 3 catches. Not to be forgotten, tight end Jeff King proved he was the man with 35 yards on five catches. Dwayne Jarrett did not prove himself in practice, and was not on the active roster for Sunday's game. The Panthers head home Sunday to take on the Texans.