Talk of next year has waned, giving way to actual football again - what a difference a week makes. And at the stadium, despite an unruly crowd, there was still a crowd. And when it had things to cheer, it did. When it needed to make noise, it did - I guess the people who wouldn't come to a December game are the ones who sit quietly anyway.
Now, instead of weighing the Cowher v/s Schottenheimer sides, it's more along the line of "how much better shape we'd be in, if we'd just won Atlanta." It's progress, for now.
It was a good game, if sloppy, for a home win, the first in a calendar year. Testaverde made a couple bad decisions, but still came out ahead and ran the offense fairly well. Deangelo Williams made some plays in an extended role, and various players came up with big plays on defense - Beason, Davis, Gamble, Rucker, Marshall, Manuel.
But 8-4 Jacksonville is another matter. While turnovers are possible, they're not especially likely either - the powerful Jacksonville rushing game has only 2 fumbles on the year, and while backup Quinn Gray has thrown 5 INT in 96 attempts, David Garrard has only 1 in 238.
Which leaves the offense needing to score points entirely on its own against the 7th ranked scoring defense. It gets better, though - they're 27th in passing yards.
still, a road game v/s a playoff-likely team isn't the best timing for a Panthers team suddenly filled with hope, and the schedule only gets more brutal from there.