Lamar Smith: PantherInsider Player of the Game

Lamar Smith and Carolina: The miracle team has emerged.

Minneapolis, MN- Lamar Smith was the workhouse as the Panthers beat the Vikings 21-14. Smith carried 30 times for 154 yards and scored two touchdowns both in the fourth-quarter.


Many people keep calling the Carolina Panther 3-0 the most surprising team in this young NFL season, but head coach John Fox is not surprised.


"You guys keep using that word surprised. Nothing surprises me. Am I pleased? Am I happy? Am I proud of where our team is? Yes. But not surprised," said head coach John Fox.


The Panthers are 3-0 for the first time since 1996 and they are the most unlikely 3-0 team in the NFL. 


Rodney Peete who was named the quarterback right before the start of the season threw his first two interceptions in the game.  But beside those two interceptions he was efficient leading the team and completing 20 of 30 passes for 221 yards, a touchdown. 


But it was the defense again that was the key to this team's victory, holding the Vikings to 250 total yards and forcing five Viking turnovers. Deon Grant lead the team by picking off three Daunte Culpepper passes and Mike Minter also picked off one as well. 


Julius Peppers who was coming off a great game against the Lions with three sacks was held in check against the Vikings.  But his teammate and fellow Panther defensive end Mike Rucker had a huge game with 3 sacks, and the Panthers as a team had 5 sacks.


The Panthers trailed 7-0 until late in the third quarter when Steve Smith slipped behind Greg Biekert for a 14-yard touchdown reception to tie it.


Lamar Smith burst up the middle for a 12-yard TD run to give the Panthers a 14-7 lead with 13:28 remaining.


The Vikings' next drive was wiped out after two plays when a diving

Mark Fields stripped Michael Bennett, and Reggie Howard recovered the fumble at the Minnesota 48.


Nine plays later on third and 11; Smith busted through the Vikings defense and took it for 24 yards and a touchdown.


"Lamar's the kind of runner who gets stronger as the game goes on,'' Fox said.  "I liked the running game's results. We've got to just keep pounding away with those body blows.''

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