Here’s my weekly lists of likes and dislikes following Carolina’s 28-19 win over Atlanta, which pushed the Panthers to 4-5.
1. Jake Delhomme was mistake-free. For the third straight game, the Panthers’ embattled QB didn’t throw an interception. In fact, the Panthers didn’t have a turnover all day.
2. The wide receivers showed up. Muhsin Muhammad finally looked young again after a dismal first half of the season, catching six passes for 91 yards. Steve Smith only had four catches for 34 yards, but two of those were 4-yard TDs in close quarters for touchdowns.
3. Jason Baker’s tackle. Smith joked later he would have run over Baker had he tried to tackle him that way, but the Panthers' punter went high and shoved Atlanta kick returner Eric Weems forcibly out of bounds to save a possible TD late in the fourth quarter.
4. Defensive sticky fingers. The Panthers often seem to drop interceptions, but Sherrod Martin and Richard Marshall held onto two big ones off Matt Ryan today. (Ryan, incidentally, is now up to 12 pickoffs for the year; Delhomme has 13).
5. Double Trouble. Both DeAngelo Williams (92 yards) and Stewart (82 yards, two TDs) had big days. Williams, who was questionable to even play, added a 30-yard reception.
2 things I didn’t like
1. Jordan Gross’s injury. Gross has a broken ankle. Although coach John Fox wouldn’t say what that meant postgame, I will – Gross almost surely is done for the year.
2. Michael Turner turning it on. One of the Panthers’ luckiest breaks in this game came the way you never want it to – when Turner left the game late in the second quarter with a severe ankle sprain. Turner already had 111 yards in only nine carries at that point. When he left, a substantial part of Atlanta’s offense left with him.
But that's how it goes in the NFL -- you play with what you have. On Sunday, the Panthers made the bigger plays, stayed nearly mistake-free and got a big one.