The Panthers put together a much better game yesterday versus the Saints than they had put up against any of their previous opponents. It was yet another exhibition of why having both Keyshawn Johnson and Steve Smith on the same field together is so important to that offense. The real spark for the Panthers yesterday was that Jake Delhomme calmed down and really put together a great, levelheaded game. There were no incidents of randomly throwing the ball up, the “deer in the headlights” look, or anything like that. It’s been well documented over the years what kind of a calming effect Steve Smith has on Delhomme, and I think that definitely came to pass against the Saints, who put up one hell of an effort in a losing cause. They certainly didn’t quit, going for the touchdown and two point conversion with less than a minute to go. Had they recovered the onside kick this game likely would have turned out very differently. I give the Saints a lot of credit for their fight. The Panthers and the rest of the NFC South really will have their hands full with New Orleans this season, I think.
One thing that bothers me is that Carolina has to stop giving so much on pass defense. Consistently I saw Carolina’s corners giving five to ten yards of padding, and Saints QB Drew Brees took every inch, totaling almost 350 yards through the air. However, Carolina’s run defense made a strong showing, holding Deuce McAlister and Reggie Bush to pretty much nothing on the ground. I felt real good about their run defense yesterday, especially considering Dan Morgan is still out and probably will be for a while.
The Chargers…sigh. They snatched defeat from the jaws of victory once again, as they’ve been apt to do so much over the last several years. The elite teams in the NFL just don’t do this, and San Diego can easily be one of these elite teams if it weren’t for this fatal flaw. For the rest, I’ll defer to Sports Illustrated’s Don Banks. He pretty much nails this whole situation.
Some other NFL notes:
- It’s early yet, but barring a serious injury, I think Chicago has a legitimate shot at a 14-2 or 15-1 season. They’re that dominant. Seattle is no slouch, and holding their offense to six points — Shaun Alexander’s injury notwithstanding — is a real feather in the Bears’ cap. Last year’s Bears would have hung up nine points behind Kyle Orton; this year’s Bears, with a healthy Rex Grossman, put up 37. The balance of this team is incredibly scary, and their running game is improving weekly.
- Titans barbar…erm…defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth is going to sit for five games, unless the Players’ Association appeals (which Gene Upshaw indicates is quite possible). He should sit all five. There is no excuse for what he did. My hat’s off to the Commissioner’s Office for laying down the law.
- The lateral play the Jets did yesterday was great fun, even if it was in a losing effort. Eric Mangini has done a sensational job in New York, by the way.
- I’m very concerned about the Dolphins. The TEXANS? WHY?
- Finally, I would feel sorry for Raider Nation, but I’m a Chargers fan, so I read this and laugh. For a second I had thought that team had at least found something after the bye, but that has turned out to be most definitely not the case.
By the way, Brett Favre and the Packers will drop to 0-6 at Lincoln Financial Field against the Eagles tonight. McNabb-to-Stallworth has become quite a lethal combination up in Philly, and the Packers give me no reason to believe that will slow down.
Philadelphia 34, Green Bay 21