Panther Inside Slant

"I know people have been bashing our pass offense for some time now," Panthers head coach John Fox said. "I think there is a time and a place (to throw the ball). Sunday was the time and the place. (But) I don't think I'm going to turn around and do that for four quarters just because we did that in the last two minutes of the game. That's not our style and I don't believe it's the right style to win. But when need be, he can do it -- and I think he proved that on Sunday."

When the Carolina Panthers needed to pull out a victory in the final three minutes against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, they turned to their young quarterback Jake Delhomme.

And the young signal caller overcame two horrible interceptions and led the Panthers on a game-winning 78-yard touchdown drive to beat the defending Super Bowl champs 27-24.

He finished the game with 277 yards passing, completing 20 of 32 passes. Those numbers are well above Delhomme's season average -- and they're expected to remain that way.

Fox made it clear this week the Panthers will continue to rely on their running game when they host the Washington Redskins this Sunday at Ericsson Stadium.

"I know people have been bashing our pass offense for some time now," Panthers head coach John Fox said. "I think there is a time and a place (to throw the ball). Sunday was the time and the place. (But) I don't think I'm going to turn around and do that for four quarters just because we did that in the last two minutes of the game. That's not our style and I don't believe it's the right style to win. But when need be, he can do it -- and I think he proved that on Sunday."

The Panthers expect to get Stephen Davis expected back in the starting lineup after missing last week with an ankle injury. Although Davis didn't practice Wednesday, he looked good running on the side and is listed as probable.

"That will be real nice to get him back," Obviously he's done a lot for our running game. We're a better team when we have him."

But Sunday's win over Tampa Bay, one that gave the Panthers a four-game lead in the NFC, should give Delhomme's confidence a huge boost heading into the stretch run.

The Bucs spent most of the game with eight men in the box, forcing Delhomme to beat them. And he did.

"I think it speaks a lot to the character we have on our team, in particular our young quarterback," Fox said. "Jake had a couple of rough plays prior to that drive. I thought our offense grabbed the bull by the horns. We protected well, we made some nice catches and Jake made some nice throws. It should do a lot for Jake's confidence."

Just as he did earlier this season against Jacksonville, Delhomme proved he could be counted on to win a football game when given the opportunity. In that game, Delhomme led the Panthers back from a 17-point second half deficit is his first work as a Panther.

Nevertheless, don't expect much of a change in Carolina's offensive philosophy the rest of the season.

SERIES HISTORY: 7th meeting. Redskins lead 6-0. When these two teams meet, the Redskins always seem to get the breaks. In the last meeting on Oct. 12, 2001, the Panthers blew a 14-point fourth-quarter lead and lost on a Brett Conway field goal 1:52 into overtime. STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

There's a good chance the Panthers may activate wide receiver Kevin Dyson from the PUP list this week. Dyson has been out of action since minicamp when he tore his Achilles tendon.

If Dyson is activated, he would give the Panthers another deep threat at wide receiver to go with Steve Smith.

Some think Dyson might even replace Muhsin Muhammad in the team's starting lineup. Muhammad has been widely ineffective and dropped a number of passes. PERSONNEL/INJURY NOTES

--RB Stephen Davis is listed as probable this week and is expected to start this week against the Washington Redskins.

--DE Mike Rucker will play this week, although his ankle remains sore. Rucker, who is listed as probable, leads the NFL with 11 sacks.

--LB Jason Kyle is also probable for this week with an ankle injury. He is the team's long-snapper.

GAME PLAN: Stephen Davis will return to the lineup this week and face his former team, the Washington Redskins. Expect to see plenty of Davis, who ran well against his former team in the preseason. The Redskins are 26th against the run this year, so Davis should have plenty of success.

Defensively, the Panthers secondary could have some problems defending against Washington's passing game. Look for the Redskins to test the Panthers deep if they can give Patrick Ramsey some protection.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Panthers RB Stephen Davis vs. Redskins defense -- Davis can't wait to play against this former team. A couple of weeks ago Davis said on ESPN's "Hot Seat" that he'd like to run for three touchdowns and about 178 yards against the Redskins. Davis has run for at least 100 yards in six of his eight starts this season.

INJURY IMPACT: The Panthers enter Sunday's game surprisingly healthy with running back Stephen Davis (ankle), defensive end Mike Rucker (ankle) and long-snapper Jason Kyle all listed as probable with ankle injuries. All three are expected to play.


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