Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Sunday, September 7, 2008 9:53 pm

Panthers 26, Chargers 24

Filed under: Panthers — Lex @ 9:53 pm
Tags: , , ,

Between painting and laundry, I didn’t get to see much of this one. But I got to see about the last half of the fourth quarter, and that was what mattered.

Just as I tuned in, the Panthers went up 19-10 when Chris Harris stripped San Diego TE Antonio Gates, one of the league’s best, of the ball just after Gates caught a short pass. The ball popped directly into the hands of CB Chris Gamble, who ran it 31 yards in for the score.

Then Philip Rivers led the Chargers back with two scores to go up 24-19 with a shade over two minutes remaining. Jake Delhomme looked like this was exactly what he had been working toward as he recovered from last year’s surgery, dinking and dunking down the field. I (and probably everyone else watching) thought the Panthers should have called their last timeout as the clock dipped below 00:15, fearing that the Panthers would get off only one more play. But Muhsin Muhammad called a timeout even before his elbows hit the ground after he was tackled with 00:02 left, giving the Panthers time for one more play. Delhomme made it count, hitting a leaping tight end Dante Rosario in the back of the end zone, threading his pass between the hands of not one but two Charger defenders. It was the kind of high-risk pass he probably wouldn’t have thrown if it hadn’t been the last play of the game.

It reminded me of how Delhomme came in off the bench to throw the late TD to Ricky Proehl in the 2003 season opener against Jacksonville, the game that established Delhomme as the starter and the season that culminated in the Super Bowl. (There was a little more time left when that play happened, of course.)

Observations: For one thing, the Panthers left seven on the table early when they failed to score on a fourth-and-goal from inside the 1. When you’ve got two running backs averaging better than five yards a carry and a completely retooled offensive line, if you’re not going to just run it up the gut then, when will you? A play like that will tell you whether your new toys are any good, even if every Charger and every fan in the stadium knew it was coming. Instead, the Panthers tried to go for the pass and it got knocked down. As that play developed, it looked to me as if Jake could have cut back to his left and run in untouched, but 1) he might not have seen that and 2) the camera angle might have been deceiving.

For another, Rosario’s performance, combined with TE Jeff King’s thoughtless illegal-formation penalty late, might mean the Panthers have a new starting TE. If Rosario can continue to play the way he played today (7 catches for 96 yards, including the game-winner), the Panthers might have found a new starting TE.

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