The Panthers offense was clicking on all cylinders on Sunday behind the arm of Jake Delhomme. Delhomme threw for a pedestrian 214 yards, but had 4 touchdown passes on 19 of 24 passing and a passer rating of 143.4.
Two of Delhomme's touchdown passes were to Muhsin Muhammad, who now holds several Panthers receiving records.
"We had a mission," Muhammad said after the game, downplaying his record-setting afternoon. "We had to come out and play well. That's what we did. We did a lot of things different than we ever have against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Historically, I haven't played extremely well against them. I had made good plays here and there, but today is definitely one of the better days I have ever had against them. They're a great defense. They do a lot of things to take away your weapons. We just played a better game than they did today."
Muhammad notched his 7th 100-yard receiving game this season, set a team record 14 receiving touchdowns for the season, and has 1,310 receiving yards currently. He is also the only player in team history to have had more than one 1,000 yard receiving campaign. Muhammad is just 2 touchdown catches shy of Wesley Walls' all-time record of 44.
Delhomme also found Keary Colbert on an end-zone fade and Mike Sideman on his back for his other touchdown tosses.
Colbert also set his own records on Sunday. With 45 receptions, Colbert passed Rae Carruth for most catches by a rookie in a Panthers uniform. Colbert also set the benchmark for most receiving touchdowns by a rookie with his fifth touchdown catch. Colbert already owns the rookie record for most receiving yards in a season with 715, which also includes the team-record for most 100-yard receiving games with 2.
"Jake, Moose, Keary Colbert, our protection, it was a very solid group effort," Coach Fox said after the game. "They played well as a team. I'm real proud of both of those guys and happy to see them have the success that they have had."
Although the Panthers offensive stats have skyrocketed in recent weeks, it's the defense that should get most of the credit.
The Panthers currently lead the league in takeaways with 38, 26 of which are interceptions. The Panthers have had 3 defensive touchdowns this season, tying a team record they have achieved 4 times in the past. The Panthers have a +15 turnover ratio on the season, and have had at least 3 takeaways in the last 7 games. The Panthers allowed only 46 yards rushing on Sunday, and have limited 6 of their last 8 opponents to less than 100 yards on the ground. Carolina has 2 interceptions for touchdowns this season, both against Tampa Bay, and both by Defensive Linemen.
"My hat's off to all those guys in that locker room," Fox said. "At 1-7, things didn't look good. We fought our way back into it."
Let's hope they keep fighting all the way to Jacksonville.
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