Panthers rock Rams

It seems as though the Carolina Panthers used the preseason exactly what it is supposed to be used for: finding talent, testing plays and formulating their team. If their 27-13 win over the Rams in week one is any indication, the Panthers were successful in their preseason plan.

Quarterback Jake Delhomme silenced any talk about David Carr taking the helm of the team with a strong performance, completing 18-of-27 passes for 201 yards and three touchdowns. Delhomme connected with wide receiver Steve Smith on a 68-yard touchdown that put the Panthers up for good.

"That was a huge play," Panthers head coach John Fox said after the game. "There were a couple of fumbles there by both teams and things could have gone either way. But our guys hung tough and Steve has always been a competitor and always will be. There's no doubt that was a huge play. It was a good job of shaking the defender loose and it was a great throw by Jake."

Delhomme sandwiched the touchdown to Smith between two touchdown passes to Drew Carter, who matched his 2006 season total in one game.

The passing game wasn't the only thing that was clicking for Jeff Davidson's new offense. The Panthers also ran the ball well the entire game, totaling 186 yards on the ground. DeShaun Foster carried 17 times for 94 yards, averaging 5.5 yards per carry. Second-year running back DeAngelo Williams averaged 4.1 yards per carry, toting it 62 yards on 14 carries.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Panthers shut-down the high-powered Rams offense, limiting St. Louis to 243 total yards. Bruising running back Steven Jackson was limited to just 58 yards rushing and fumbled twice on back-to-back drives.

"He's a great player," coach Fox said of Jackson. "He made the Pro Bowl a year ago. They came in with the idea of running the ball, and they gashed us a couple of times. But then our guys got the speed of it and understood the schemes they ran and we did better as we went along."

"We just wanted to come out and play hard and start fast,: said Panthers cornerback Chris Gamble of the defensive mindset entering the game. "Just make plays and do what we had to do. I wasn't going to even play this game but I was feeling it. That was a good offense, but we made plays and did what we had to do."

With the win, the Panthers sit alone atop the NFC South, as Atlanta, Tampa and New Orleans all lost. Next week the Panthers return home to host the 1-0 Houston Texans.

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