I'm sitting in the press box at Talladega -- writing about the latest huge crashes at this dangerous racetrack -- so I'm not in the best position to talk about the Panthers tonight.
Given that Carolina just upset Arizona 34-21, however, I think the tradition of "Things I Did or Didn't Like" must continue from afar. I did manage to see a bit of the game in this pressbox as well as the highlights and the stats. Here's what I liked:
1. The Panther defense. They turned Kurt Warner into "Jake Delhomme from the Arizona playoff game." It seemed like every time I looked at the stats, Warner was getting intercepted again. He ended up with Jake's exact turnover numbers from the playoffs in fact -- 5 interceptions, 1 lost fumble.
And Julius Peppers finally made one of those big-ticket signature plays -- his pick-six for a TD was superb and constituted his first TD since 2004.
2. Double Trouble. Carolina led 28-7 at halftime in large part because Williams and Stewart couldn't be contained by the Cardinals. This was huge for the Panthers' passing game, which needed to be able to play from ahead for once and got to. As in the Tampa win, Delhomme spent much of the game handing off.
3. John Fox. Hey, he went against popular decision and started Jake Delhomme. It worked out fine. His coaching staff came up with a way to stop Warner, run the ball so effectively Jake only had to throw 14 times (he had a chest injury and came out of the game late) and get a huge win on the road.
Give Fox credit -- that's why he is going on his 8th year coaching at Carolina.
Just when you think it's all over for Fox, he pulls one out like this. And if you think about it, so many of Fox's best wins as a Panther coach have come on the road, just as this one did.
The Panthers are still only 3-4, but they deserve to celebrate this one. For the first time in the calendar year 2009, they just beat a good team.
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