Moore had career day against Vikings

The Vikings defense provided hope for one player, but it was Carolina quarterback Matt Moore, who had a career day against Minnesota. It could be the type of performance that extends Moore's chances as a starter in the future.

In two weeks, Carolina management will begin contemplating what to do at quarterback.

And given how well Matt Moore played Sunday it's to imagine him not being a major player in those discussions.

Carolina can't afford to stick with status quo at quarterback, which means Moore, Jake Delhomme and Josh McCown will not all be returning. The Panthers are pretty much contractually obligated to Delhomme, but McCown is an unrestricted free agent and Moore remains a bit of an enigma, a kid who has talent but is in need of taking the next step in his development and proving himself.

That's why it was so important for the Panthers to find out this season if Moore can really play.

On Sunday night, he proved he could.

This was Moore's sixth career NFL start and it was by far his best performance. He completed 21 of 33 passes for a career-high 299 yards and three touchdowns as the Panthers upset the Vikings 26-7.

The impressive thing is he didn't do it against any old defense.

He did it against a defense that came in ranked sixth in the NFL in total yards and ninth in points allowed.

When things went bad, Moore responded with something positive.

When a 26-yard touchdown pass to Steve Smith was called back because of a holding penalty, Moore didn't go in the tank. Instead, he went back in attack mode and found Smith again in the end zone two plays later for a 42-yard touchdown strike. And when Carolina's first three possessions ended in three-and-outs, Moore took the fourth and led the Panthers on a 15-play, 71-yard touchdown drive, chewing up more than eight minutes off clock.

"You saw a young guy mature and get some more work under his belt," said Smith.

Moore's mobility worked in favor against an aggressive defensive line that came in with a league-high 41 sacks.

The Panthers helped out Moore by rolling him out and having him set up outside of the pocket on occasion.

"We're changing up the launch points and helping the offensive line," Moore said. "That's good from them and that's good for me. Getting outside of the pocket and throwing on the run, well, that changes things up. Guys are comfortable with it so we feel good with it."

The Panthers have two more weeks to evaluate Moore.

But the early returns are good.

Is he a finished product? Certainly not.

And while it's easy to feel good about him after one really good game, you also have to weigh in his struggles on the road last week at New England with his command of the offense.

Ultimately, the question Panthers management will have to ask themselves is this: Is Moore the guy they want to tie their hopes to in the future?

TRENDING: But Moore is smart enough to know where his bread is buttered.

In the past three games Smith has 14 receptions for 318 yards and two touchdowns and has reemerged as one of the game's most dangerous receivers, largely because of Moore's ability to throw the deep ball.

"Smitty is a special guy," Moore said. "When 89 is running underneath it, good things are going to happen."

LINEUP CHANGE: With Jeff Otah out for the season with a torn meniscus in his knee, Geoff Schwartz got his first start at right tackle. He gave up one sack. Not bad considering the Vikings came in with a league-best 41 sacks.

Overall, the Panthers ran for 124 yards and had 385 yards on offense.


  • SS Chris Harris had a hand in both Carolina turnovers, recovering a fumble by Sidney Rice and intercepting Brett Favre in the end zone.

  • WR Steve Smith had his best game of the season with nine grabs for 157 yards and a touchdown. He now has three 40-plus yard receptions in the last three weeks. Smith was targeted 14 times.

  • RB DeAngelo Williams injured his ankle in the first quarter and did not return.

  • RB Jonathan Stewart ran for 109 yards against a very tough Minnesota defense.

  • K John Kasay might be losing leg strength. The Panthers opted not to try a 52-yard field goal at the end of the first half, instead going with a Hail Mary.

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