"Hey, 6-2 compared to 5-3 going into the break is huge," said quarterback Jake Delhomme. "Hopefully we can look back on this game down the line and say that it was a pivotal win for us. We've given ourselves a chance. But it's only eight weeks."
Now the Panthers will try to maintain that lead.
If there's one area they have struggled in the past, it's maintaining first place in the division. But Carolina's path looks pretty easy coming up.
After the bye, they travel to Oakland to face the Raiders, return home to play Detroit and then travel to play Atlanta.
After falling behind 17-3, Carolina's offense caught fire in the second half and put up 21 points in the third quarter. The Panthers have now outscored their opponents 82-20 at home in the second half.
Delhomme was near perfect after halftime, completing seven of eight passes for 136 yards with two touchdown passes to Steve Smith, including a 65-yarder that put the Panthers ahead for good at 24-23. DeAngelo Williams, who ran like a bull all afternoon, had 68 of his 108 yards in the second half and scored on a 15-yard run.
Earlier this season, the Panthers overcame a 17-3 deficit against the Chicago Bears.
Afterward, coach John Fox called it a "character win."
"We knew we were going to have our hands full defensively and did," Fox said. "I think our offense came out and sparked us in the second half."
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Guys are extremely happy. It was tough for me, because I'm spent right now. I'm on 'E' right now. I have nothing left in the tank; I'm on 'E.' That's how you should finish the game. Hopefully I can go get something to eat and lay down for a little bit then maybe have a little bit more energy. Right now, it was a real emotional game for me. I was trying to refrain from dropping a few tears because I really get emotional when guys go out there and fight for each other like that." --Panthers MLB Jon Beason, on how he felt after the game.
TRENDING: Defensive end Charles Johnson did what the rest of Carolina's defense couldn't -- get to Kurt Warner. He sacked Warner twice, accounting for both Carolina sacks in a 27-23 victory over Arizona on Sunday.
"He did well today," said defensive end Julius Peppers. "He got pressure and was disruptive, got two sacks for us and held it down for the d-line today."
Johnson now has 3.5 sacks this season, just one-half sack behind Peppers for the team lead. Peppers said it was a tough day to be a defensive lineman because of Warner's quick release. Rarely did he hold the ball for longer than three seconds.
"It was very frustrating because sometimes it feels like no matter how fast you beat somebody you are never going to get there," said Peppers, who had three tackles and one quarterback hurry. "But you just have to keep fighting through that, and I think we did a good job up front."
6-2 halfway through
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