Despite the worst game I’ve ever seen Jake Delhomme play and the quarterback’s four interceptions, the Panthers ground out a 17-6 win at Oakland Sunday to move to 7-2. Here are the 5 things I most liked about the win and the 3 I liked least:
The 5 best:
1. DeAngelo Williams was outstanding. His 69-yard touchdown run was superb, but so was that big one late in the fourth quarter, when he broke three tackles after an already long day. He ended up with 140 yards.
2. Julius Peppers was fantastic. He made play after play after play, sacking the QB, chasing down runners and once sniffing out a short pass and suddenly changing gears to guard the receiver, forcing a throw out of bounds and a punt.
3. Mark Jones made me rewind. I watched this game from home – we have a crew of three writers at the game in Oakland. When I have to do that, I generally skip all Panther punt and kickoff returns. That’s been my habit ever since Steve Smith stopped returning them regularly. But Jones made me regret that decision Sunday with two superb returns.
4. That 7-2 Carolina record. The ugliness of this game will be a distant memory by December, but the Panthers’ 7-2 start won’t be.
5. Jon Beason. I now am surprised anytime there’s a running play by the opposing team that doesn’t end with No.52 on top of the ballcarrier.
The 3 worst:
1. Delhomme. He was Jeff Lewis bad. He was Randy Fasani bad. He was unbelievably bad – four interceptions, 7-for-27 for 72 yards, constantly throwing too high, just totally out of synch. Even the best starting pitchers get shelled occasionally, and Delhomme picked the right team to have this happen to, since Oakland’s offense is so woeful and couldn't take advantage of his frequent mistakes.
2. Steve Smith. This was partly Delhomme’s fault, of course, but Smith was a total non-factor on the receiving end (1 catch, 9 yards). He did contribute a couple of fine blocks, but that was about it.
3. 20 -- yes 20!!! -- punts. What a snoozefest most of this game was, with neither offense able to move the ball much. It’s a good thing it didn’t start at 1 p.m., so at least most folks could enjoy a lot of a beautiful afternoon in the Carolinas before watching one of the Panthers’ least entertaining wins of the season.
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