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Thursday, September 11, 2008

v/s Chicago

Carolina continues to prove its drive and mettle, coming back from a17-3 deficit for its second come-from-behind win in a row. The first half was an epic failure for the team, netting only 46 offensive yards and suffering from numerous penalties. The second half was a new team -rededicated to the run per John Fox's decree, confident, and able tomake things happen. Chicago couldn't match the intensity, blew the lead, and watched Carolina able to run with the game on the line whenthe Bears couldn't. 2-0 Carolina now sits alone at the top of the division after two weeks,and they've certainly earned it.

Game Balls: Chris Harris, Chris Gamble, Jonathan Stewart.

Harris' Hits: Chris Harris is playing as good as any safety in the NFL.Yet another forced fumble, a huge hit in the endzone, and even a huge hit on a guard - on a pulling play, the right guard went to sealcontain, and Harris loaded up for the hit, knocking Roberto Garza off his feet so Jon Beason could make the tackle at the line of scrimmage.

Gamble making a case for re-signing: Gamble's second fumble recovery ofthe year was key, but his two passes defended and 8 tackles were vitalas well. Gamble's hitting hard, he's making his plays, and as a freeagent next year, he may be someone to hold onto. The team has tried tolock down nickelback Richard Marshall unsuccessfully, and Gamble is currently Carolina's best corner; Marshall and Lucas are signed through2009, Gamble through this year.

Thomas Davis was active in pass defense, and make a key play on making Olson fumble as well, picked up by Jon Beason. Davis was 2nd in tackles, and had the game-ending tackle for loss on 4th and 1. It wasalso a strong day for Beason, leading the team with 11 tackles, a defended pass, and the recovery.

Jake's rough day: Delhomme was only moderately accurate, and not especially efficient, this week. His stats would've looked a lot betterwith a deep pass to Hackett, a TD to Muhammad, or having more convertible 3rd-and-longs. But 128 yards isn't a lot, and the team could've had more success attacking deep. 15% third down conversions won't be enough this year.

Stewart's coming out party: with 2 TD, Jonathan Stewart accounted formost of the points of the day and had some electrifying runs.

Muhammad's 10K - Moose advanced his 10,000th yard receiving on hissecond pass, and is the 7th active receiver in the league over thatmark. He's the 29th player in league history to go over that milestone.

Remember back when we rushed the passer? Damione Lewis had the lonesack, a tackle for loss, and a QB hurry, Julius Peppers had a tackle forloss, and the DL had no other noteworthy stats.

Grades

QB: C. Delhomme didn't have any mistakes (the INT was completely onKing), but didn't make any plays that made the stats. He was robbed ofa 32 yard touchdown by a holding penalty, and a DJ Hackett deep pass wasbrought back as well.

RB: A-. Deangelo Williams struggled to get 3 yards/carry,but Stewartexploded with 5.5/carry and the two scores, as well as a highlight stylerun bulling over Kevin Payne. Stewart did also give up a sack on ablitz pickup. Brad Hoover picked up a key 3rd down and had tworeceptions, one a nice 12 yard run finished with a juke move.

TE: C. Jeff King caught a 23yarder that should've been a TD. He also couldn't secure a pass that became an INT and led to a Chicago score. Dante Rosario, still banged up from post-celebration trampling of his foot, wasn't much of a factor.

WR: C. Muhsin Muhammad led receivers again, and got his 10k. Hackett and Jarrett took up space.

OL: C. Great running lanes, but Jeff Otah had two mistakes in the passing game and there were tons of false starts and procedure penalties.

DL: B. Mostly for stopping the run. The pass rush was terrible.

LB: A. Never can ask for more from this trio. Also, when Diggs went out, it showed that Landon Johnson just isn't as good a player.

DB: B. It'd be great to give them an A, just for Harris and Gamble. But Ken Lucas would've given up a TD to the elderly Marty Booker if the ball hadn't been overthrown (Orton overthrowing you doesn't happen often) and Charles Godfrey was barely involved.

Special Teams: C. Nice work here on what could've been a disaster, and nice run back by Mark Jones on punts was timely. But Nick Goings brings this from an ace to an adequate.
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