New Orleans, LA- The Carolina Panthers looked like a team not ready to be leading 17-6 going into halftime in Sunday's game at the New Orleans Superdome. A dynamic Panthers offense looked aenimic in the second period failing to muster anything more than a field goal as the Saints scored 24 unanswered points on the hapless Panthers.
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Carolina asserted their will early in Sunday's game with a blistering 66 yard TD by DeAngelo Williams which silenced the Superdome and left the Saints reeling. This was quickly followed by a forced fumble by DE Tyler Brayton to set up a second Williams TD run, scoring twice within ten minutes.
The Saints offense could not deal with the Carolina defense in the first half getting stopped on three redzone drives leading to two John Karney field goals and an interception by CB Chris Gamble.
Going into the break the New Orleans crowd was silent, and the Panthers looked nothing like a 3-4 team fighting with a 7-0 juggernaut, rather they looked like a team who knew they were the better team on this Sunday and stepped up to the occasion, this would all change in the second half.
The best desription for the second half was that the Panthers failed to play like a team wanting to win a football game, rather, everyone merely wanted to keep their jobs and the team took no risks on offense. Richard Marshall blew coverage allowing a 63 yard gain by Saints WR Devery Henderson, setting up a 10 yard Pierre Thomas TD run.
Despite the Saints' score, the Panthers remained in the driver's seat engineering a brutal 19 play drive that ate almost ten minutes off the clock and gave the Panthers the ball on the 1 yard line. After a questionable time out Jake Delhomme bobbled the handoff from Ryan Kalil and was sacked, pushing the team back and after a questionable run plays by Tyrell Sutton, and a dropped pass by DeAngelo Williams which would have surely been a TD the Panthers were forced to settle for a short FG, their last score of the game.
The Saints answered back quickly the next drive with another passing TD caused by blown coverage by Richard Marshall, and poor tackling by Chris Gamble. This time it was a 54 yard pass to Robert Meachem. Despite their lack of fire the Panthers only allowed another field goal by the Saints, now the offense was severely letting the team down.
Even after a Jake Delhomme fumble the Panthers remained in the game for one final two minute drill starting at the Carolina two yard line. On the first play of the drive DeAngelo Williams fumbled the ball and it was recovered for a touchdown. This play sealed the Panthers fate on Sunday. The Panthers were two different teams on Sunday, there was the first half team who was dynamic, opportunistic and hungry, much like the Panthers were against Arizona, then there were the second half Panthers who looked remarkably similar to the Panthers who played Buffalo; it was tough to watch.
The Panthers return home to face the Atlanta Falcons on November 15th at 1:00p.m.
Notes : LB Thomas Davis sustained a leg injury in the third quarter and did not return.