Panthers Silence the Haters

After last Monday night's loss to the Packers on prime time national television, the bandwagon fans jumped off like rats from a sinking ship. Those of us that remained sat in shock as we learned Steve Smith would be lost for much of the season to a broken leg. That shock turned to Horror as we then found out Stephen Davis, our offensive workhorse and Pro Bowl running back, would miss up to five weeks after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery.

We were missing two players that accounted for 53 percent of our NFC championship offense. During ESPN's pregame show, "NFL Sunday Countdown", former Dallas Cowboys star wide receiver turned analyst Michael Irvin said of the Panthers; "They are done". This came after the discussion of how only two teams in NFL history have made it to the Superbowl after starting the season 0-2.

Writing off the Panthers proved once again to be a bad idea.

In a 28-17 win at Arrowhead Stadium yesterday the Carolina Panthers put on display their back of the future, DeShaun Foster, and ran over the Chiefs and their 13 regular season home game win streak. Coming up just 4 yards short of the Panthers single game rushing record (held by Stephen Davis) Foster finished the day with 174 yards on 32 carries including one scamper for 71 yards. "When you are pounding the ball like that, eventually a defense is going to give. It's like hitting a rock. If you keep cracking it, it's going to break. And we just broke one," Foster said. "I just wish I could have taken that long one all the way."

Foster has a very different style of running than what we are used to seeing with Davis. Davis hits the hole hard and fast and powers through for what he can get, while foster will stop, spin, fake, juke, or simply try to out sprint the defense to turn the corner to gain yardage. It doesn't always yield positive results.

"The thing about DeShaun," Delhomme said, "is that he might only gain one yard here and one yard there, but when he breaks it, he can go. That's how he did 71 yards today."

His running style can be frustrating to his linemen who are trying to block for him. "That's what his speed and his ability can do for you," right tackle Matt Willig said, "Sometimes he gets creative, which can be a downside. The upside is when he finds a hole and has that extra burst. He ran 71 yards. That's huge. A lineman's dream is to see a guy run 71 yards."

Despite all the hype, stats, and media coverage that Fosters performance yesterday is receiving, some Panther fans are not too surprised by it all. During the Playoffs last season, Foster gained 95 yards against St. Louis and 60 against the Eagles in the NFC Championship game on his way to 3rd place ranking among NFC rushers and had some fans talking about a possible RB controversy this season.

If consistency is truly king in the world of the NFL, the Jury is still somewhat out on if Foster can compete week in and week out as the feature back in a run first offense. However, Irvin and a host of other media know-it-alls have already been proven to be consistently wrong about the Panthers ability to compete as a team.

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