Comeback Clanked

A pair of rookies connected to position the Carolina Panthers for just their second win, but the team's most veteran player pushed a game-winning field goal attempt wide left as the Browns held on for a wild 24-23 win.

The Panthers came out cooking, taking the opening kickoff and marching 81 yards in eight plays before capping things with a 26-yard touchdown run by Mike Goodson.

After that, the first half became the Peyton Hillis show. Cleveland's breakout banger scored three touchdowns in a 10-minute span as the Browns jumped to a 21-7 lead.

John Kasay cut into the lead with a pair of field goals before halftime, although by game's end, he was ready to forget this contest altogether.

The Panthers started the second half by reminding Jake Delhomme why he was let go in the offseason. Delhomme's first two passes of the second half were picked off, first by Jon Beason and next by Captain Munnerlyn. The second interception was returned 37 yards for a score that cut the deficit to 21-20.


RB Jonathan Stewart
Matt Sullivan/Getty
The Panthers opted not to attempt a tying two-point conversion, a decision that proved costly.

The teams traded field goals in the fourth quarter, resulting in a 24-23 edge for the Browns. After that, Jimmy Clausen had two chances to engineer a game-winning drive.

The first attempt ended with fellow rookie Joe Haden picking off a pass intended for Dante Rosario. The Carolina defense responded by forcing a three-and-out, giving Clausen another opportunity.

Clausen made the most of his second chance, finding Goodson for completions of 11 and 32 yards before hitting Brandon LaFell for 28 yards to set up Kasay's final attempt.

Kasay's 42-yard attempt bounced off the left upright, his second miss of the game, dropping the Panthers to 1-10. It marks the first time in John Fox's head coaching career he has lost double-digit games in a season.

Cat Quicks

--Jonathan Stewart returned to action after missing the previous two games with a concussion. He looked fully healthy, carrying 12 times for 98 yards (8.2 ypc).

--Goodson was held under 100 yards rushing for the first time in three starts (14 carries, 55 yards), but he picked up the slack as a receiver and led the team with eight catches and 81 receiving yards.

--Clausen continues to struggle to find the end zone. He has just one touchdown pass on the season and that came in Week 4. He also needs to do a better job of finding his starting receivers. Steve Smith was held under 50 yards for the fourth straight game (two catches, 33 yards) while David Gettis was shut out.

--Charles Johnson picked up another sack to boost his team-leading total to 5.5. Tyler Brayton also joined in the fun by bringing down his former teammate.

--The Panthers nearly had a third pick of Delhomme, but team interception leader Charles Godfrey dropped a ball that he had a chance to bring back for six points.

--Carolina was penalized eight times for 68 yards. Two of those penalties came on third downs on Cleveland's second drive, gift-wrapping Hillis' second TD.

--The Panthers scored at least 20 points for just the second time the season, the other being Week 7's 23-20 win over the San Francisco 49ers.



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Michael Lombardo is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and also a long-time contributor to the Scout.com network. His analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports. You can see more of his updates by following him on Twitter.


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