Today we saw the Matt Moore the Panthers expected when they cut Jake Delhomme and named Moore the starter over the off season. The three year veteran was 28 for 41 for 308 yards, 2 TDs, INT, 96.4 rating and executed the vertical passing game to perfection late in the game.
The star for the Panthers in this game though was rookie WR David Gettis. Gettis has perfected a deadly double move that is leaving DBs with broken ankles. He scored twice, first from 18 yards on an outside-in double move post that left him wide open. What had looked oh so difficult for the Panthers in the five previous game suddenly looked simple.
Gettis' second score was simply a post play that Moore put on the money, a catch that was sweet redemption for the rookie who had dropped a 4th down sure TD pass a few minutes earlier. On the day he hauled in 8 passes for 125 yards and the first 2 TDs of his career. Who would have ever guessed that the 3rd WR drafted by the Panthers would be the first to lay claim to the #2 WR role. His ability to toast man coverage is exactly what we need across from Smith.
The Panthers over came three turnovers, all committed by veteran players. RB DeAngelo Williams and WR Steve Smith both lost fumbles. The third was by QB Matt Moore, a gawd awful decision that resulted in a pick 6 by a 49er defensive linemen.
The Panthers defense gave up 102 yards on 19 carries to 49er RB Frank Gore but held the 49ers to 129 yards passing. QB Alex Smith was knocked from the game in the 1st half on a sack from DE Charles Johnson. Though it was clearly a clean hit, he landed with his full weight on Smith, who's left shoulder was driven into the ground. He would leave with a sprained shoulder.
In comes former Panther whipping boy David Carr. Carr took Panther fans down memory lane going 5 for 13 for 67 yards and INT. What a key INT it was too. I give props to CB Richard Marshall, though who did what the 49er DB's failed to do. He turned his head and made a play on the under thrown ball. I've said many times in the past, I've seen David Carr hit the goal post 4 straight times in practice from the 40 yds line but in a game he is completely wild.
John Kasay adds to his legend another last minute game winner after hitting a 55 yarder earlier. That kick would have been good from 62.
Steve Smith made an impact in his return to the field. He kept the 49ers on their toes and allowed Gettis to get the single coverage he chewed up. Smith made some mistakes too. Besides the fumble already mentioned he had a bad drop and costly 15 yd roughness penalty. But I'll take that as long as he is playing with attitude and fire. These Panthers need their leader on the field; leader by example anyway.
The beleaguered Panther offensive line had good outing as the 49ers managed just one sack. It would appear the line-up changes played dividends to the passing game. Garry Williams should get another start at RT against the Rams next week. The running game though struggled with only 73 yards on 23 carries between Williams and Stewart. That's about 2 yards per carry...ouch. Worse is that Williams left with a late leg injury; we'll be sure to keep an eye on that.
Another key to the outcome was converting 7 of 15 3rd downs by getting more 3rd and short opportunities. The Panthers were able to get the short passing game going late as the 49ers retreated into a shell defense. The offensive game plan spread the ball around as well, as five players had at least 4 catches (Gettis, Smith, LaFell, Rosario, Williams).
It was a fun game to watch as well in true Cardiac cat fashion. I thought the game over right before the Marshall INT. Instead the Panthers find themselves with a chance to win and Moore hits Lafell right away.
It's just great to get the first win.
Update by Jaxon:
It was pointed out that I failed to give adequate props to WR Brandon LaFell. Though I did point out his key catch to set up the winning FG, he had a nice overall day as well. After struggling with drops the last two games LaFell catch 6 balls for 91 yards. He did drop his first target but after that was money.