Carolina has gotten on the scoreboard, but the Panthers still have a looooooooong way to go.
The Panthers could have made this scoring drive a lot easier on themselves. On first-and-10 from their own 28, Delhomme found Steve Smith all alone behind the Tampa Bay defense. Smith looked like a sure thing to catch it and score, but instead made a last-minute adjustment to the ball and fell down while making the catch.
Still, that was a 48-yard gain to Tampa's 24. Carolina moved it down to a second-and-goal at the Tampa Bay 1, in part after a nice direct snap play to DeAngelo Williams. But then the Panthers took Williams out, put rookie Jonathan Stewart in... and Stewart and Delhomme tripped over each other on a handoff. Stewart was down and the ball came out, but he was ruled down first, even after a Tampa Bay challenge.
Then, on third-and-goal from the 2, Carolina ran a quick play-action pass to Muhsin Muhammad, but Tampa Bay broke it up, with linebacker Barrett Ruud nearly intercepting it. John Kasay made a chip shot 20-yarder, so it's 14-3, Tampa Bay, with 12:31 to go in the second quarter.
There are 2 big differences so far: Tampa Bay got the TD off the blocked punt, and Jeff Garcia got his team in the end zone on his third-down play from the 2, while Delhomme didn't. To get back in this one, Carolina is going to need a couple of really huge plays -- the momentum is favoring Tampa Bay to a great extent so far.
6 days ago