Inside Slant

Jake Delhomme certainly isn't the type of guy to point a finger at his offensive line -- even though he certainly has the right. <br><br> Despite being pressured throughout the game last Sunday against the Eagles, Delhomme refused to blame the five guys in front of him for his costly four interceptions, one of which was taken back 64 yards for a touchdown in Carolina's 30-8 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.<br><br>

"(The Eagles) did a good job on the pass rush, but you can't blame those guys up front," said Delhomme, whose Panthers look to rebound Sunday against the San Diego Chargers.

"We just didn't get it done. It seems like it's the same old song and dance for four out of the five games this year. We're not getting it done, especially offensively and is has to fall on the quarterback."

But wide receiver Muhsin Muhammad defended Delhomme, saying, "Anytime your quarterback is getting hit the way that Jake Delhomme was getting hit the offense is going to struggle."

Panthers head coach John Fox said he didn't completely agree with Muhammad, but admitted, "Every team has limitations."

Said Fox: "That's just the way it is. You utilize the personnel you have the best you can, and do the things you think they can execute. We have limitations like other people."

Delhomme doesn't believe he's been pressing.

"That's not it at all," Delhomme said. "Things are not happening right now. They really aren't. Certainly it is hard. It is discouraging. You get so frustrated with yourself. You want to just do so much better for this team."

Fox wasn't about to blame Delhomme, whose nine interceptions are the most in the NFL this season, for Carolina's struggles on offense this season. He knows the team has been without Steve Smith since Week 1 and that the injuries to Stephen Davis and DeShaun Foster have been hurtful.

"I couldn't begin to put it all on him," Fox said. "That's the kind of guy he is (taking the blame). I know from my standpoint, I don't feel it's all him."

The Panthers have tried to help out in pass protection by sometimes keeping seven and even eight players into block at certain times. It hasn't always worked.

Despite the team's 1-4 record and the fact they have tough games coming up against San Diego and Seattle, Delhomme promised, "We'll come back. We'll work. We're going to work and we're going to get it turned around.

"It's not just me saying we're going to get it turned around. I truly believe we will. We're going to work at it and we just got to get better."

Panthers left tackle Jordan Gross stepped up and shouldered some blame after the game, saying they deserved it.

"Jake got hit a few times and we just have to do our job much better," Gross said of the offensive line. "The run got going and we felt good about that, but if Delhomme is not getting hit then he is going to make better decisions in the pocket."

Another concern for Carolina's offensive line was dumb penalties that included four false starts and a tripping penalty.

It seemed every time the Panthers ventured into Eagles territory on Sunday, a false start would put them in a first-and-15 or third-and-long. "It wasn't really the crowd noise or anything like that," said Gross, who was flagged for two false start penalties. "We were just antsy and we wanted to win and score. We just couldn't move past those penalties."

Despite scoring just eight points, the Panthers managed to gain 344 yards -- 61 more than the Eagles -- and actually held the overall edge in time of possession. And, the Panthers did what they wanted to on the ground, running for 158 yards, second-most this season.

But the Panthers were just 6-for-17 on third downs.

"To possess the ball, you have to convert on third down downs," said Fox, stating the obvious. "I didn't feel we were as sharp as we have been."

Carolina's problems seem to be most prevalent on third downs, where Delhomme is last in the league with a horrendous quarterback rating of 31.2. Delhomme is completing just 46.7 percent of his passes on third down with six interceptions and just one touchdown pass.

SERIES HISTORY: 3rd meeting. Panthers lead series 2-0. The Panthers beat the Chargers in 1997 and 2000. In the last meeting, the Panthers overcame a 16-7 deficit to win 30-22 in a game that was the first in NFL history to include a safety, an interception return for a touchdown, a punt return for a touchdown and a blocked field goal returned for a touchdown in the same game.


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