Monday, September 8, 2008

Jake's comebacks that didn't quite make my cut

In the wake of the Panthers' dramatic win on the final play over San Diego Sunday, I wrote a column for the Sept.9 Observer about what I consider Jake Delhomme's five best comebacks, in order. This doesn't include every Panther game, so there's no Steve Beuerlein draw at Green Bay in here. It's Delhomme-focused, so it only counts from 2003 onward. Here's the link.

But Delhomme has led a lot more last-minute drives than that. I gave preference on that list to degree of difficulty (i.e. Steve Smith being out of the lineup), the significance of the game (which is why the St. Louis double-OT playoff game remains No.1 for me) and scoring a TD at the end (because if Delhomme only got them in position for a field goal, then those victories ultimately came by John Kasay's left foot). I ultimately put Delhomme's debut game vs. Jacksonville in 2003 at No.2 and the just-completed San Diego game at No.3. I put the Super Bowl at No.4 and a 2004 win over Tampa Bay at No.5.

Here were Nos.6-8 -- the "almosts but not quites" in my book. If you've got any I've forgotten or games you think I've mis-ranked, feel free to join the conversation.

No.8: Oct.1, 2006, vs. New Orleans -- Delhomme directs a 91-yard drive in the fourth quarter to put Panthers ahead for good.

No.7: Dec.14, 2003 vs. Arizona -- On the road, with the Panthers trying to get out of a tailspin during their Super Bowl year, Delhomme took the Panthers 54 yards in the final 1:09 to set up a Kasay field goal that clinched the NFC South division title for Carolina.

No.6: Nov.9, 2003 vs. Tampa Bay -- I'll always remember this game because it was back when the Panthers did some cheesy "Fan of the Game" promotion and actually handed the fan the microphone to say something. In this case, the fan called out Tampa Bay's defense -- loudly -- and the Bucs responded by suddenly roaring to life and taking a 24-20 lead. Delhomme saved the fan's hide by completing 5-of-6 attempts for 78 yards in the game-winning drive. Smith scored the TD on a 5-yarder.

I seriously considered moving this game higher and hated to leave it out of the column, but the Top 5 picks were all pretty good games, too. And in this game (as opposed to the No.5) Delhomme had Smith on his side and uninjured.

6 comments:

Gary said...

Jake did not have anything that resembled a comeback, it was simply good luck that bestowed the Carolina Panther Organization as a whole, nothing more, nothing less.
I wouldn't expect to see that miracle happen again. They need to step-up gameplay !! Statistically the Chargers out-played the Panthers.

Thank You,

G-MONEY GRIFFIN

Braveschamps95 said...

Actually, statistically the Panthers outplayed the Chargers. They got more yards on offense 388 to 316. They won time of possession 32:02 to 27:58. They were even with them in 3rd down performance at 33% (5 for 15) Chargers were 4 for 12.

Nice try though...not.

Hyman said...

Yo G-Money Griffin-

You're ugly and your mother dresses you funny. Go back to cheering for the Patriots.

Christian said...

Scott --

You mentioned how you hated to leave your #6 greatest Delhomme comeback (the one against Tampa in the infamous "Panther Prowler" game) out of your top 5. It would be very easy to put it back in -- just get rid of your #1.

The game at St. Louis shouldn't really be classified as a "comeback". Yes, it was one of, if not THE greatest moment in franchise history – BUT, I wouldn't say it was a comeback. The Panthers weren't answering a recent score by St. Louis and they weren't trailing in the game. It happened on one of the first plays of double overtime with the score tied - and it had been tied since the end of regulation. I would definitely rank it number one in greatest plays, greatest games, or greatest moments in Panthers' history, but not the #1 comeback – since it wasn’t technically a comeback.

What are your thoughts? Thanks.

Scott Fowler said...

Christian: You make a good point and thanks for reading the story. I gave myself some wiggle room in terms of "comebacks" here -- the Super Bowl wasn't a successful comeback, either, ultimately, yet I included it.
I kept the St. Louis game in because the Panthers were a decided underdog during the game, it was on the road and they trailed at various points throughout the game (although never by more than 2 points). But I understand your reasoning, too.

jeremy1980cv said...

I remember it like it was yesterday, they gave the microphone to Catman and he called out Simeon Rice and Warren Sapp......which jumpstarted the entire TB team. Funny, even the panthers players were shaking their heads in disbelief, thanks Jake for insuring the Catman not eat crow!