PASSING OFFENSE: C -- Former minor league baseball player Chris Weinke played the part of relief pitcher on Sunday and led Carolina to the winning touchdown, completing a 3-yard touchdown pass to Ricky Proehl with 32 seconds left to lift the Panthers to a 21-20 win. Weinke completed 5-of-7 passes for 47 yards on the drive, despite the fact he hadn't played in a regular season game since 2002. Now that's good enough for a save. If there is anything good about the hit Jake Delhomme took, it's that perhaps he won't remember this day. Delhomme threw three interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns. Delhomme did, however, throw for 236 yards and two scores, including an 80-yard touchdown pass to Steve Smith. Smith was again amazing with six catches for 123 yards. Weinke gets an A-plus; Delhomme a D-minus and a bag of ice for his head.
RUSHING OFFENSE: F -- The Panthers were without DeShaun Foster and
fullback Brad Hoover on Sunday and managed just 54 yards on 25 carries.
Stephen Davis was again unproductive, averaging just 2.1 yards per carry.
Carolina's longest run came on a 10-yard gain by Nick Goings on a
third-and-long. It has become apparent the Panthers running game is not what
it was in 2003, and the offensive line really needs to find some go-to plays
they can hang their hat on.
PASS DEFENSE: A-plus -- The Panthers sacked Joey Harrington six times and
forced him into three turnovers -- two on fumbles and another on a Ken Lucas
interception. In all, Carolina forced four turnovers, all coming from their
pass defense. Harrington finished the day 17-of-28 for 201 yards, but those
numbers were a bit out of whack because linebacker Will Witherspoon blew
coverage on an 86-yard pass play to Marcus Pollard. Luckily for the
Panthers, Mike Minter ran him down and saved a touchdown. Remember, the
Panthers gave up 20 points, but 14 of those came on interception returns for
touchdowns. When the Panthers needed a stop on the final drive, they forced
four straight Harrington incompletions to seal the win.
RUSH DEFENSE: A -- The Lions ran for 169 yards and four scores last week
and four touchdowns, but were completely stuffed by the Panthers all day.
Kevin Jones was worthless, held to 21 yards on 12 carries after missing
portions of the game with an injured shoulder. As a team, Detroit's running
backs had just 40 yards on 21 carries. That despite the fact the Panthers
played most of the second half without linebacker Dan Morgan, who injured
his shoulder. Overall, this was a terrific game by Carolina's defense both
against the run and the pass.
SPECIAL TEAMS: D-minus -- The special teams nearly the lost the game for
the Panthers. Along with three penalties for 29 yards on returns, the
Panthers also allowed a 43-yard kickoff return by R.W. McQuarters after
Chris Weinke had orchestrated the go-ahead drive. That nearly put the Lions
in field goal range right away. However, the defense bailed them out,
preventing the Lions from getting into field goal range. John Kasay had a
52-yard field goal attempt blocked while Jason Baker botched a punt, sending
it 11 yards.
COACHING: D -- OK, John Fox knows this one is coming, so here goes --
it's a tremendously bone-headed move by the head coach to go for the first
down on fourth-and-1 at the Lions' 4-yard line when your team is down by
three points. The move backfired and here's the truth -- free safety Mike
Minter saved Fox's butt by running down Marcus Pollard and saving a
touchdown on the second play of the next drive. The smart thing to do is tie
the game; then kickoff and get a stop from your defense. If the Panthers
lose this game, Fox would have been roasted for the next two weeks. You have
to give credit to offensive coordinator Dan Henning for making some fine
play calls on the final drive with backup Chris Weinke in at quarterback.
The Panthers came in with a great defensive game plan and worked it
efficiently all game, so defensive coordinator Mike Trgovac should be
complimented for an outstanding job of preparation.
Panthers vs. Lions report card
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