Sunday, October 19, 2008

A late night hit (or early morning depending on your read time)

Well, a game I thought would be close wasn't close at all. Congrats to the Panthers for truly proving me wrong about the outcome. Yes, I predicted a 24-21 Carolina win. The 30-7 shelling they handed the Saints was not what I expected.

I thought the Panthers would be able to run the ball effectively, which they did (145 total on 37 carries). What I didn't anticipate was the passing game being so darn good. Jake Delhomme was money, as were Steve Smith, Muhsin Muhammad, and Dwayne Jarrett. Smitty was nails, making big catches, Moose snaring just about anything that was catchable, and Jarrett, while not big in numbers, made a nice catch on a 3rd down conversion to keep a drive going.

The O-line deserves a ton of credit--Jake sacked just once in the game, and the work opening gaps for DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. There was one noticeable absence in this game from the O-Line perspective--dumb penalties. False starts were a non-factor. In fact, penalties were few and far between for both teams. Not that penalties weren't committed--they were, they just weren't called. A group of us sideline photographers chat throughout the game, and at one point we counted (without the benefit of replay) 3 holding penalties that should have been flagged on the New Orleans offensive line. If you watched the game at home, you probably saw more. (Sorry about the rant there). Anyway, props to the Panthers offensively for getting things done.

Defensively, wow. Flying to the football, good pressure on Drew Brees, and for the most part, they did a good job of keeping the Saints from getting too frisky with the ball. Reggie Bush is amazing (he had 55 yards on 5 carries, before injuring his knee with what has been reported as a torn meniscus), but the Panther special teams answered the call on Sunday. Proof positive was the play made by Na'il Diggs in punt coverage, doing his Superman imitation with his flying tackle of Bush. All that was missing was a cape. Julius Peppers has officially returned. This is the kind of disruptive force Panther fans have known throughout his career. He's playing with reckless abandon, and making life miserable for the opposition. He recorded a sack, pass break-up, and a forced fumble...all in the first half. He's a beast, and he's playing like his old self, a nice bonus through 7 games of the season.

Hard to believe that Carolina is nearly halfway through the season, but at 5-2, I guess time sure flies when you are having fun!

Not all is well, though. The secondary will likely spend some additional time in front of the JUGGS machine in practice this week. I can't say for sure, but the DB's may have had more drops than the receiving corps. And don't think for a second the receivers will let them slide on that little nugget, as they head into this week's meeting with Arizona.

Other notes on this (now) Sunday morning:
Credit Tampa Bay for beating Seattle Sunday night, but shame on them for basically being an embarrassment. Nice way to honor Mike Alstott with his induction into the Ring of Honor (or whatever they call it there), but if you are going to do that, the least you can do is spell his name correctly on the framed jerseys you gave him! He was given a large frame containing 2 #40 jerseys for his time with the Bucs. The dark red one they now wear, and the orange one the team used to wear (which I personally love, by the way). The red jersey had the name right, the orange was wrong. A-L-S-O-T-T. C'mon people, even this blog has a spellcheck feature. Travesty. Utter travesty.

Another tip of the cap to the Tampa Bay Rays for winning the American League pennant, first in team history. And credit the Boston Red Sox for making it a series when all was thought to be lost. Great drama. Hard to pick against the Rays going into the Fall Classic, but I am going to, but only because of my blind loyalty to my beloved Chicago White Sox, 2005 World Series champs. Phillies in 6.

Oh, and can we ditch the swim goggles for the locker-room celebrations? You guys look foolish.

Mike Solarte

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