Panthers Roar in Rematch

Last week, the Carolina Panthers succumbed to the New Orleans Saints with a lethargic, penalty-filled performance. Things turned around in week two, as the NFL tends to do, as Carolina defeated the reigning Super Bowl champion New England Patriots in Bank of America Stadium.

The crowd was certainly a huge factor in the game, and despite two big plays by New England, Carolina was able to control nearly ever aspect of the football game. The obviously frazzled Patriots gave up 12 penalties for 86 yards, and were involved in several skirmishes.

New England and Carolina seemed to play a chess match of a football game at the beginning, as both teams felt each other out, playing a battle of field position. Both teams punted on their first two possessions. However, midway through the first quarter, New England quarterback Tom Brady found blown coverage in Carolina's defense, and hit wideout Troy Brown for a whopping 71 yards, setting up a 1 yard touchdown pass to Daniel Graham.

Carolina would not be caught napping, however, as their next possession went for 69 yards in only 5 plays, culminated by a Stephen Davis touchdown, his first of three. Davis would finish the game with 77 yards on 25 carries, and was certainly the offensive MVP of the game.

In fact, the Panthers would go on to score 20 consecutive unanswered points, with John Kasay hitting two field goals from 51 and 52 yards, with another Stephen Davis touchdown in between them. To set up that touchdown, Chris Gamble broke a 76 yard punt return late in the second quarter, which was a heartbreaker for the Patriots. At halftime, Carolina led 17-7, and would not give up the lead for the rest of the game.

New England made it close in the third, as star kicker Adam Vinatieri kicked a 45 yarder, immediately followed by a Jake Delhomme interception for a touchdown by Mike Vrabel. That brought the game close, 20-17 in Carolina's favor.

In the fourth, Mike Rucker forced a Tom Brady fumble, recovered by Julius Peppers and ran into New England's red zone, setting up the final score of the game for Stephen Davis. The game would end after some defensive back and forth from both teams, 27-17.

Ken Lucas seemed to be everywhere in this game, living up to his large contract. His team-leading 10 tackles came at opportune moments, including one touchdown saving tackle in the first.

Carolina's Delhomme, statistically, had a sub par game, but was able to manage 154 yards on 11 completions (with 26 attempts) and one interception. New England QB Tom Brady threw 23/44, 270 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception. Their big name running back Corey Dillon managed only 36 yards on 14 attempts, as Carolina's defense finally lived up to the hype, smothering New England in the Super Bowl 38 rematch.

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