Midway through the 4th quarter, with the Panthers leading the Vikings 13-6, Chris Gamble fielded a punt and tried some special teams magic, as he attempted to throw a cross-field pass to Richard Marshall. The pass skipped to Marshall, which he couldn't field cleanly, and ended up in Viking possession.
Panthers Head Coach John Fox placed the blame on his own shoulders. "We have an option to abort, but I'm not going to put that on him," Fox said after the game. "That's my decision to take that risk."
A few plays later, with the Panthers defense feeling confident that they had stopped the Viking offense, the Nordic Warriors tried a little trickery of their own.
On fourth down, with the Vikings special teams on the field in a field goal formation, kicker Ryan Longwell took a flip from holder Chris Kluwe and lofted a pass to back-up tight end Richard Owens, who dove into the end zone for a 16-yard touchdown.
Perhaps the biggest story would be the continued inability for the Panthers offense to get much going. Through two full games, the Panthers have only scored one touchdown – a three yard plunge by rookie DeAngelo Williams. Jake Delhomme completed only 17 of 33 passes for 181 yards; some of which were dropped by the intended receiver, but the majority were simply mis-fires by the former pro bowl quarterback. The only bright spot for the Panthers on offense was the play of rookie DeAngelo Williams, who got his first major action of the season, carrying the ball 13 times for 74 yards and catching 5 passes for 24 yards and scoring his first pro rushing touchdown.
The other bright spot was Julius Peppers, who dominated the Viking line. Peppers recorded 3 sacks, 8 tackles, several QB hurries and a blocked field goal attempt. Peppers also moved into second place on the Panthers all-time sacks list, surpassing former all-pro Kevin Greene. Peppers still trails fellow defensive lineman Mike Rucker, who is the Panthers all-time sacks leader.
The Panthers travel to Tampa Bay next weekend to take on the Buccaneers, who are also 0-2, in a game that many thought would be a match-up of potential division champions. Instead, one team will be 1-2 and one team will leave 0-3 and at the bottom of the division.
A game of Gambles
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