Delhomme looks to extend streak over Bucs

Just as Michael Vick seems to have the Carolina Panthers' number, Jake Delhomme seems to know the trick to beating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.Since his arrival in Carolina two years ago, Delhomme is 4-0 against Tampa Bay. Last year, he led the team's second straight sweep of their division rival by completing a combined 33 of 45 passes for 427 yards with six touchdown passes and only one interception in wins of 21-14 at home and 37-20 at Raymond James Stadium.

Delhomme's passer rating in those last two games: 111.8 and a career-best 143.4.

Delhomme said he can't explain that success, but said ratings are "for the birds." But he comes into the game red hot after throwing for 341 yards and three touchdowns last week against Minnesota.

"We've done some good things the last couple of years against Tampa," Delhomme said. "But every game seems like it comes down to the wire. We had another one last year. We were able to do some good things. We've had one overtime game and two that came down to the last drive of the game. It's a game that you have to be at your best, especially offensively. They don't give up touchdowns. They don't give up many points. They play fast. They're where they need to be all the time. You have to be on top of your game. I enjoy playing against them because they're so tough. Preparation-wise, it seems like I'm always telling myself, `Remember that 55 (Derrick Brooks) is going to do this on this play.' It's like when you have a really tough test in school. That's what it's like going up against these guys."

The interesting aspect will be how Delhomme does against the Tampa Bay defense if it completely shuts down Carolina's running game.

The Bucs have the league's No. 1-ranked rush defense, while the Panthers are 31st in the league in yards per carry.

Stephen Davis, while rushing for nine touchdowns this season, is only averaging 3 yards per carry.

In the past, the Panthers have used the run to set up the pass. But with so many teams keying on stopping Stephen Davis they've had to rely more on throwing the ball.

As a result, Steve Smith is having a monster year.

He leads the NFL in receptions (50), receiving yards (797) and touchdown catches (8).

So are the Panthers becoming a passing team?

"A little bit more. Who's to say? I'd love to be able to run the ball forty-something times a game," Delhomme said. "That's what's fun, because when you do have those opportunities to throw, usually they're there. Usually they're wide open. We've run the ball pretty effectively. It just so happens when had opportunities to throw it we get more one-on-one opportunities, and we have a guy who is pretty special with the ball in his hands."

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