RUSHING OFFENSE: D -- The Broncos rushed for 121 yards but that number was inflated by 58 yards on the final drive. Mike Shanahan wasn't pleased with the lack of a running game, which made the offense one-dimensional. P.J. Pope gave the Broncos a bit of a spark with 51 yards rushing. Selvin Young played himself into the doghouse with a fumble in the final seconds of the first half. He didn't play in the second half.
PASS DEFENSE: D-plus -- The Broncos decided to stack the box against the run, and Jake Delhomme made them pay. Steve Smith had nine catches for 165 yards, and Mushin Muhammad added four catches for 70 yards. Smith set the tone for the game by getting 66 yards, including a 15-yard touchdown, on the first drive.
RUSH DEFENSE: C -- Without a 56-yard run by DeAngelo Williams, the Broncos would have held the strong Panthers run offense to less than 100 yards. That big run can't completely be discounted -- it gave the Panthers a commanding 17-point lead early in the third quarter. The Broncos sold out to stop the run and for most of the day did a solid job.
SPECIAL TEAMS: D -- A missed field goal by Matt Prater late in the third quarter ruined any remaining chance for the Broncos to get back in the game. Prater continues to have problems from between 40 and 49 yards. The rest of the Broncos' special teams were average -- Eddie Royal had one nice kickoff return, and the Panthers didn't break any long returns.
COACHING: C -- Denver decided to take away something from the Panthers, which was the run game. Carolina adjusted and won the game with big passing plays. Offensively, the Broncos might have finally felt the impact of so many tailback injuries. The Panthers were able to rush the quarterback without worrying about the run game, which brought Denver's offense to a halt.
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