Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Sunday, October 1, 2006 9:55 pm

Panthers 21, Saints 18

Filed under: Panthers — Lex @ 9:55 pm

The Panthers got a win they had to have to keep the division race close, and they looked pretty good doing it. The Saints looked good, too. In fact, both teams’ defenses had excellent days. The difference was that the Saints weren’t able to take advantage of some of the opportunities they got, and the Panthers were.

Both DeShaun Foster and DeAngelo Williams had good days for Carolina, but Foster’s 43-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter iced the game. I wasn’t able to see how Foster got so free after breaking the initial grabs, but I’m guessing that the secondary all pivoted toward him and then let up just a little, thinking that Foster was going to be tackled or pushed out of bounds around the 30. Only neither of those things happened, and at that point he probably was even with most of them, so they had no hope of catching him once he broke free.

There was a lot to like in the Panthers’ performance. Perhaps the most encouraging thing was that although the makeshift, patchwork offensive line lost left guard Ken Wahl, the only person left playing in his current position since the start of the season, Will Montgomery stepped in and the line did well, holding the Saints to one sack. Steve Smith still isn’t 100%, but where that’s affecting him is yards after the catch — he can still make fantastic catches. Keyshawn Johnson continues to complement Smith, and at this point anyone in the league who thinks they can try to double- or triple-team Smith and leave Keyshawn open will be left waving forlornly as No. 19 waltzes into the Land of Six.

The defense also played well, holding first-round draft pick Reggie Bush and perennial big-play threat Deuce McAllister to a combined 61 rushing yards. The pass defense was a bit more porous on paper, but aside from the 83-yard Brees-to-Colston TD in garbage time, it actually held up well, giving up roughly 260 yards and no scores except a late 2-point conversion. The score wouldn’t have been close except for a bogus pass-interference call against Thomas Davis late in the third quarter on a 4th-and-1 play that kept a Saints drive alive for what would ultimately a McAllister TD.

The Panthers are home again Sunday against the Cleveland Browns, who came from behind against a very bad Oakland team to get their first win today. Atlanta’s idle next Sunday and the Saints host the Bucs, who were idle today.

One other thing. Memo to Scott Fujita: The refs didn’t see your cheap shot on the back of Steve Smith’s legs, but everybody else in the stadium did.

UPDATE: One last thing: Actually, I can find something bad to say about the Panthers’ performance today. And it is: This sucks.

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