It's time for the traditional postgame countdown on "Scott Says." I am writing this from the Tampa Bay pressbox after visiting the Panthers' locker room. So without further ado....
THE THINGS I LIKED MOST:
1) Double Trouble. Finally looked worthy of the nickname. 100-yard games for both RBs -- DeAngelo Williams (152 and two TDs) and Jonathan Stewart (110 and 1 TD).
2) The offensive line. Simply outwilled Tampa Bay on the final TD drive (8 minutes, 15 runs, 1 pass, 80 yards). "That's what we were supposed to be all along," tackle Jordan Gross said.
3) Overall defense. The Panthers' D only allowed 1 TD, sacked the Bucs 4 times (2 by Julius Peppers, 2 by Charles Johnson) and caused 5 fumbles (all by Bucs QB Josh Johnson, who looked very good in the first quarter and average at best after that). Thomas Davis continued his spectacular season by making an acrobatic interception to set up a Panther TD.
4) The weather. The Panthers picked a nice day to visit Florida. It was a sunny 64 degrees at kickoff and, while a bit breezy, a far sight warmer than it was in Charlotte.
5) John Fox's calls. The Panthers coach went for a key 4th-and-1 and made it, won a big coach's challenge to keep Tampa Bay short of a first down and kept the ball almost entirely out of his quarterback's hands on that decisive last drive, just like he should have.
THE THINGS I LIKED LEAST:
1) Jake Delhomme. Carolina won this game in spite of their QB, not because of him. Delhomme threw 2 interceptions and only managed 65 yards through the air. On the positive side, he did perform 15 handoffs without an error on that final drive.
2) Dante Wesley. His terrible personal foul against a defenseless Bucs punt returner got him thrown out of the game and earned a 15-yard penalty and at least a fine from the NFL (if not a suspension). The Bucs returner, Clifton Smith, got a concussion and missed the rest of the game. Wesley said after the game he didn't mean to hurt Smith but he mis-timed his hit.
3) That 97-yard Tampa kickoff return. The Panthers allowed a big TD return late in the third quarter just after taking a 21-7 lead, in part due to shoddy tackling (yes, Richard Marshall, I'm talking about you). That made Carolina (2-3) work a lot harder to win this one. But give them credit, the Panthers did ultimately win it, and have a chance to even their record at 3-3 next Sunday, Oct.25th, at home against Buffalo.
Benjamin expected to return Saturday
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