Panthers Chop Chiefs

A hostile Environment, the best Running Back in the NFL, losing your best offensive weapon for the season the week before and a team licking their wounds after a loss on the road playing their first home game; Those are some of the hurdles the Panthers faced coming into today's game vs. the Kansas City Chiefs. Add in an injury late in the week to Stephen Davis, and this had all the makings of a disaster for the Panthers and their fans...

The Chiefs were aided by a questionable call early in the second quarter when it appeared that Panthers defensive back Ricky Manning was bumped while attempting to intercept a Trent Green pass meant for Tony Gonzalez. Instead of calling offensive pass interference, the officials called Manning for pass interference, giving the Chiefs the ball inside the Panthers 5 yard line.

On the next play, Chris Gamble dropped a sure interception in the end zone, which wouldn't have counted anyway due to a phantom holding penalty against Julius Peppers. Holmes would then score on the next play.

Jake Delhomme seemed to have an off day. Many of his throws were high, and he ended the day with 2 interceptions; one ran back 43 yards for a touchdown by Kansas City's Eric Warfield. Delhomme threw several times into double coverage, and missed a streaking Muhsin Muhammad early in the game for a sure touchdown. Delhomme would go on to finish the day with 3 touchdown passes (Mangum, Colbert and Seidman), and one fumble that could have easily been an incomplete forward pass had the Panthers not been in Kansas City.

In the first half, the Panthers did a good job of limiting the Chiefs' offense. Priest Holmes was a non factor for the entire game, and Trent Green couldn't get the ball to Tight End Tony Gonzales effectively.

Muhsin Muhammad had a rough day, being called for 4 motion penalties. Left Guard Tutan Reyes also had a rough day battling Lionel Dalton, who seemed to be in the Panthers' backfield at will. Reyes got the upper hand in the second half though, as the Panthers scored 21 of their 28 points after half time.

The player of the day was Deshaun Foster, who had 14 carries for 43 yards at half time, but exploded for 131 yards in the second half, including a franchise long run of 71 yards that set up his own TD on the very next play. The previous Panthers record was 69 yards by Tshimanga Biakabutuka on September 26, 1999 against Cincinnati. Foster carried for 174 yards on 32 carries, which was 4 yards shy of a Panthers rushing record set just last season by Stephen Davis.

Carolina's receivers were led by veteran Ricky Proehl, who caught 4 passes for 48 yards, but the star of the show was Rookie Keary Colbert. Colbert made the first start of his career, made a spectacular bobbling catch, and caught his first touchdown pass starting in place of the injured Steve Smith. At times Delhomme tried to force it to Colbert, thrice throwing it into double coverage, one resulting in an interception.

The key in the second half was the Panthers playing effective offense and controlling the clock. They ran the play action to perfection, and opened holes for Foster to run. With the defense fresh, when the Chiefs did get the ball, they were ineffective.

Priest Holmes galloped for a 40 yard bust that was called back for offensive holding. The Panthers increased the pressure and forced Green to hurry his passes and make mistakes. Holmes ended the day with a measly 66 yards rushing on 16 attempts and a 1 yard touchdown plunge.

Green ended the day with 187 yard passing on 17 of 34 attempts, 1 interception and no touchdowns.

Julius Peppers sacked Green twice, and Dan Morgan blitzed up the middle to add another late in the game. Rookie Cornerback Chris Gamble had his first career interception as the Panthers went on to dominate the second half and nullify the potent Kansas City offense.

Earlier in the week, Kansas City's newspaper (the Kansas City Star) ripped Panther fans for leaving early during their thumping last week at the hands of Green Bay. With 7:00 left in the game and the Chiefs only down 11, the stadium was less than 50% full. The Panthers took what historically has been a hostile environment and negated it's effectiveness by controlling the time of possession. By the 4 minute mark, the stands were nearly 75% empty.

Many people both locally and nationally didn't give the Panthers much of a chance to win the game this week, but key players, players that will play a large part of this franchise's future stepped up and gave us a glimpse of what we can expect to see for years to come.

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