All right, here we go -- the traditional "5 things" post about the Panthers' stunning 26-7 win over the Minnesota Vikings Sunday night in Charlotte:
1) Julius Peppers. Oh my gracious, Peppers was good. So good, in fact, the Vikings pulled offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie out of the game, he was getting beaten so badly by Peppers. Peppers only had one sack but was constantly disruptive, even getting in Brett Favre's face when the Panthers were only rushing three men. NBC's Cris Collinsworth decreed that the Panthers should pay Peppers $2 million per game (not his current $1 million per) if he plays like that.
2) Matt Moore. C'mon, this guy outplayed Brett Favre? Unbelievably, he did (and thus became the subject of my column in Monday's newspaper). I never would have forecast Moore to go for a 123.2 QB rating against the Vikings. Three TDs. 299 passing yards. Really hard to believe stuff. He had a running game to play off of -- that was big -- but still. Best game of Moore's young career, for sure, and now he's 4-2 as a starter for Carolina.
3) Jonathan Stewart. It was "Single Trouble" again, as DeAngelo Williams had to leave the game early with an ankle injury after only 13 rushing yards. But here came Stewart with 109 -- the first 100-yard game against the Vikes in the past 37. He was bruising, tough and scored twice (once on a pass).
4) John Fox and the coaching staff. Talk about trying hard to keep your jobs -- a superb game plan yielded a great result. I was all set in this space to rip Fox for not going for the 52-yard field goal at the end of the first half, but given the fact Carolina beat an 11-2 team by 19 points, I don't have the heart.
5) Steve Smith. He had a huge game at the right time -- 157 receiving yards, or more than half of Moore's total. His best catch of the day didn't even count -- a sliding grab in the end zone nullified by a holding penalty -- but he came right back with a 42-yard TD pass. Great yards after catch, too. Looked like Steve Smith, the 2008 version, once again.
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