Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Sunday, September 17, 2006 4:50 pm

Vikings 16, Panthers 13 (OT)

Filed under: Panthers — Lex @ 4:50 pm

It’s one thing to have a game taken from you. It’s quite another to give it away. And that’s what former first-round draft pick Chris Gamble did for the Panthers this afternoon.

Disclosure: I didn’t see most of the game. I took the kids to a birthday party while the Vikings were still up 3-0 and didn’t get back in front of the TV until there were less than 3 minutes left in the third quarter. But I saw what mattered — Gamble, the starting corner and punt returner, caught a punt in the fourth quarter and then — with his team up by a touchdown, and apparently not as part of any planned play — tried to lateral it to fellow defensive back Richard Marshall, who was nowhere near where the ball came down. The Vikings recovered, then scored moments later on a fake field goal to tie the game at 13.

In overtime, Gamble was the guy covering Vikings receiver Troy Williamson, who caught Brad Johnson’s pass near midfield as Johnson was being dragged to the ground by Julius Peppers. Williamson only ran that ball down inside the Carolina 5 — and Gamble added insult to injury by facemasking Williamson on the end of the play. After two meaningless dives into the pile, the Vikings brought out Ryan Longwell to kick the short field goal, and that was that.

What-ifs are pointless, but I think it’s reasonable to assume that had Gamble simply returned the punt as planned, the Panthers would have won the game. The Vikings couldn’t move the ball for jack against the Panthers, and Peppers and Mike Rucker were up in Brad Johnson’s grille all afternoon. (Credit to Johnson: the guy plays like someone 10 years younger.)

They say cornerbacks have to have short memories, but after his performance today, Chris Gamble needs a serious case of amnesia. That improvised lateral will be showing up on TV a lot between now and the end of the season, I fear.

This season is young and already ugly. Drew Carter, despite trying to run Steve Smith’s quick outs like Steve Smith, is no Steve Smith. Keary Colbert is clearly a busted draft pick. I thought I heard them say both Kris Jenkins and Shaun Williams went out with injuries. I hope I was mistaken; without Dan Morgan and Kris Jenkins, the Panthers’ D starts approaching mediocre much more quickly than anyone wants. And give the remade O-line credit for hanging tough, but they need some continuity at every position if this team is going to make the playoffs.

And for this trendy preseason Super Bowl pick, that remains a big if. The Panthers are now two games behind the Saints and the Falcons. A loss to the Bucs next week would put them alone in the division cellar. And although I would expect the Panthers to win that game, we’ve already seen in the first two weeks how much expectations about this team are worth.

UPDATE: In post-game interviews, John Fox says Gamble’s lateral really was a called play. On the one hand, oy. On the other hand, at least the rest of the team won’t be hatin’ on Gamble for the rest of the season.

1 Comment

  1. Getting picked as Superbowl contenders before the start of a season is the kiss of death.

    And while there are some factor re: injuries, our biggest problem is our head game.

    Comment by jw — Monday, September 18, 2006 8:47 am @ 8:47 am

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