Monday, September 21, 2009
September 20, 2009
By Steve Reed
ATLANTA — Coach John Fox insisted Carolina’s 28-20 loss to the Atlanta Falcons wasn’t a moral victory for the Carolina Panthers, even though it sure sounded like one in the locker room.
Carolina’s offense, in particular quarterback Jake Delhomme, played much better on Sunday at the Georgia Dome, but the Panthers still turned the ball over twice and had a punt blocked resulting in only their second 0-2 start in the Fox era, leaving them two games behind the Falcons and New Orleans Saints in the NFC South.
Fox said “there’s no consolation prize in this league — you either win or you lose,” but several players seemed encouraged that the Panthers took a step forward — at least offensively — after a dismal seven-turnover performance in a 38-10 loss to Philadelphia in the season opener.
“There’s nothing that’s good in a loss, but I’m happy for Jake and I’m happy for our offense a little bit after we did so poorly last week. At least we let us have a chance to be in the game this week,” said offensive tackle Jordan Gross. “(Last year) was a different story and we’re figuring out who we are in ‘09 and I think we moved a little bit in the right direction today.”
“Offensively, it was night and day,” said wide receiver Steve Smith, who caught eight passes for 131 yards.
Smith called it an “important” game for Delhomme, who completed 25 of 41 passes for 308 yards, and the offense which put up 440 yards.
“It was probably the most important thing as far as all of the criticism we got as an offense,” Smith said.
And yet, the bottom line is the Panthers are 0-2.
“I don’t think it’s a head for the hills, or whatever words you want to attach to it to make it more than it is,” Smith said. “I think Jeff Davidson did an exceptional job calling the plays and we put ourselves offensively in good positions and Jake made some clutch throws.”