6 THINGS I LIKED IN CAROLINA’S WIN (and 3 I didn't)
** The Panthers came back from a 17-3 deficit for the second time this season at home to win (Chicago was the other). The Panthers finally have an offense explosive enough to come back from 14 down. That's saying something you could rarely say about this team before.
** Steve Smith. That play on the sideline, when he broke two tackles and went 65 yards for a TD while managing not to step out of bounds? Unbelievable. And the other TD catch, where he got away with a mild push-off to score, was good, too. Asked about whether he pushed off on that one in his postgame interview, Smith said, laughing: "I can neither confirm nor deny."
** The big turnovers. Carolina’s defense gave up a lot of points and yards comparatively (381 in the air to Kurt Warner alone), but captured two huge turnovers that led to 10 points (a Thomas Davis fumble recovery and a Jon Beason interception).
** The Panthers are now 6-2 at the halfway point of the season headed into their bye week. That’s quite a start, especially considering Tampa Bay lost Sunday, so Carolina now stands alone in first place in the NFC South. Ten wins practically always gets you to the playoffs, and Carolina only would need to only go 4-4 in the second half to do that.
** It was a picture-perfect October afternoon, and the game itself was highly entertaining. The third quarter in particular was superb – there were five total touchdowns.
** Carolina ran off the final 5:57 of the clock, converting three key third downs. The catch by Dwayne Jarrett on a long third down was particularly noteworthy -- he took a huge hit, held onto the ball and gained a lot of trust from his teammates on that one. And DeAngelo Williams, superb all game long, then iced it with a 15-yard run on 3rd-and-13.
.... AND 3 THINGS I DIDN’T LIKE
** Carolina’s pass defense got beaten – a lot – by Arizona’s big-play offense. Kurt Warner threw for close to 400 yards. Delhomme, Warner's former teammate in NFL Europe, said he didn't get to talk to Warner after the game but would have "probably asked for his autograph" had he been able to.
** Muhsin Muhammad’s drop of a sure TD pass. It cost Carolina four points early, but ultimately didn't hurt the team too much. Said Moose: "It happens. The sun doesn't shine all the time."
** My pregame prediction. Oops! I didn't have quite enough faith in the home team this time, missing the Panthers' outcome for the first time in the past 5 games by picking Arizona by 4.