Sunday, September 28, 2008

Panthers' D playing well so far (despite Hochuli's call)

I'm impressed with the Panthers defense so far, one of the main reasons the Panthers are now leading 14-6.

Atlanta's rush-oriented offense has had four drives and generated points that it earned on one of them -- a field goal. It got its other field goal after Panther punter Jason Baker dropped a punt, which allowed Atlanta's John Abraham to block it. But Atlanta went 3-and-out with great field position on that one.

Carolina's defense also could have had a score but for a very debatable call. On Atlanta's first series, Matt Ryan threw a terrible pass under pressure that was intercepted and returned for a TD by Richard Marshall. But Carolina's Julius Peppers was called for a late hit on the replay, which nullified the TD and marks Peppers' only impact on this game so far.

That call, incidentally, was by Ed Hochuli, the referee who was "marked down" by the NFL after blowing an inadvertent whistle in the Denver-San Diego game earlier this year that ultimately cost the Chargers the game. Hochuli is unlikely to work playoff games because of that horrendous mistake, but he's still working regular-season ones.

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