Sunday, October 5, 2008

Panthers-Chiefs Fallout

If you liked watching the Carolina Panthers beat an opponent into submission, then Sunday was for you.

Carolina, for the first time since 2006, faced a lesser opponent, and dominated them. You would have to go back to the home game with St. Louis, when Carolina blanked the Rams 15-0. Even in that game, Carolina wasn't as good as they were against KC.

The Panther offense worked efficiently, in spite of a slow down in the 3rd quarter. DeAngelo Williams had a nice break out game (and now, hopefully people will stop questioning if Jonathan Stewart should start--does it really matter?). Jake Delhomme was given good protection by a patchwork offensive line (nice work from Frank Omiyale and Jeremy Bridges replacing Jordan Gross and Jeff Otah who were down with injuries). Steve Smith and Muhsin Muhammad were very good as well.

And that is just half the story.

The Panther defense was superb. Loads of pressure on Damon Huard, locking up receivers, good push by the D-line, the linebackers were everywhere. Oh, and this little nugget. Larry Johnson. 7 carries, 2 yards. It was a performance that deserved the shutout they pitched.

More than the on-field performances, though, was the attitude. The Panthers showed they had a killer instinct against the Chiefs (not hard to do considering KC was about as bad as they could be). Still, the Panthers have shown the knack of playing to the level of the competition. Playing down to bad teams, and rising up to meet good ones. Sunday, Carolina showed themselves to be the dominant team, and never let KC up for air. That is the kind of game the Panthers should play all the time.

Again, KC is horrendous, but still, Carolina took one of the elite runners in the game, and didn't just shut him down. They turned him off. That's the 5th straight elite back the Panthers have faced, and the 5th one they held under 100 yards. Plus they got the 3 takeaways (2 INT's and the fumble recovery). This is a defense that is flat out nasty.

So what does that get them? Well, a 4-1 record, and a date with Tampa Bay on the road next week. The Bucs lost to Denver, so Carolina owns a lead in the NFC South, and a favorable schedule after the Bucs. They will have home games with New Orleans, and Arizona, hit the bye week, then go out to Oakland, home with Detroit, and then on the road to meet Atlanta and Green Bay. That's getting down the road a bit, but if the Panthers continue their current pace of play, Panther fans had better make sure their Sunday's are flexible--the Panthers could find themselves on national TV once flex scheduling takes hold.

Mike Solarte

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