Davis runs Panthers past Patriots

Posted: Monday, September 19, 2005


  New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) is sacked by Carolina Panthers' Thomas Davis (47) during the second quarter in Charlotte, N.C. Sunday Sept. 18, 2005. AP Photo/Rick Havner

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) is sacked by Carolina Panthers' Thomas Davis (47) during the second quarter in Charlotte, N.C. Sunday Sept. 18, 2005.

AP Photo/Rick Havner

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Carolina Panthers know a Week 2 victory over New England doesn't come close to rectifying their Super Bowl loss to the Patriots two years ago.

Even so, their 27-17 victory over the Patriots on Sunday sure did feel good.

''It wasn't a revenge game or a get-back game, because that was a long time ago,'' said Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme. ''This was just a big win for us.''

It certainly was no Super Bowl reprise because neither team played that well.

But the Panthers (1-1) did just enough to win, getting three touchdowns from Stephen Davis in the first regular-season meeting between the teams since the Patriots' thrilling 32-29 Super Bowl win two seasons ago.

But if it was any indication, neither team is ready to play for a championship and the Patriots (1-1) look nothing like a winner of three of the last four Super Bowls.

''Do you think we're going to win any more games playing like this?'' Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. ''We can't play like this. We have to play better. We have to coach better. This won't be good enough ... against anyone we play.''

Carolina won in spite of Delhomme, who was off all day and had an interception by Mike Vrabel returned 24 yards for a touchdown. Delhomme finished 11-of-26 for 154 yards and no touchdowns.

It meant the Panthers had to rely on Davis, who ran for 77 yards and scored on three 1-yard plunges in his second game back from microfracture surgery on his right knee. Davis became the first running back to score three TDs against the Patriots since Curtis Martin did it in 2000.

''I'm fine,'' Davis said. I'm feeling great. I'm having no setbacks.''

Neither did Carolina's defense, despite the loss of tackle Kris Jenkins to a season-ending knee injury. Even without their run stopper, the Panthers shut down Corey Dillon and limited the Patriots to 39 yards rushing.

''One person isn't going to cause a tremendous drop-off, contrary to popular belief,'' said end Julius Peppers. ''We aren't just going to fall off without Kris. We still play hard and we still have great players.''

The Patriots lost because of Tom Brady, who had two of New England's three turnovers and couldn't carry the offensive load when the running game stalled.

Brady finished 23-of-44 for 270 yards, one interception and one fumble. He did throw a 1-yard TD pass to Daniel Graham early in the first quarter, the 100th passing touchdown of his career, but struggled from there.

New England was also sloppy, committing 12 penalties for 86 yards.

''We came in here and said, 'We sucked today,' '' Brady said. ''Losing sucks. Any way you cut it, it's no fun.''

Carolina had control of the game early in the second half when John Kasay kicked his second field goal, a 52-yarder, to give the Panthers a 20-7 lead.

But the Patriots seized the momentum by scoring 10 points in a span of 27 seconds.

First, Adam Vinatieri connected on a 45-yarder to cut Carolina's lead to 20-10.

Then Delhomme made his biggest blunder of the game. Under pressure, he frantically searched the sideline for someone to dump the ball off to. Davis was briefly there, but Delhomme took too long to throw in his direction.

When he finally did, Vrabel was the only player in the vicinity. He went untouched into the end zone for a 24-yard score. That cut it to 20-17 and the Panthers seemed to be unraveling.

Colts 10, Jaguars 3

INDIANAPOLIS — Edgerrin James ran for 128 yards, Ran Carthon scored on a 6-yard run midway through the fourth quarter and Indianapolis turned in a second straight solid defensive performance.

The victory gave Indianapolis (2-0) an early edge in the AFC South title chase. Jacksonville (1-1) was the only team to beat Indianapolis at home last year, and nearly came back in the game's final two minutes.

Chiefs 23, Raiders 17

OAKLAND, Calif. — Trent Green engineered two second-half field goal drives and the Chiefs stopped Oakland at the 10-yard line in the final minutes to spoil Randy Moss' home debut.

Kansas City overhauled its defense in the offseason after another season in which its high-scoring offense wasn't enough. After taking a shutout into the final minute of a season-opening 27-7 win over the New York Jets, the Chiefs (2-0) proved to be just tough enough to beat the Raiders for the fifth straight time.

After Samie Parker's fumble set up a final drive for Oakland, Kerry Collins led the Raiders (0-2) to the 10 with 1:58 to go. He threw an incomplete pass to LaMont Jordan on third down and then lofted a last-ditch pass to Jerry Porter in the back corner of the end zone. Porter leaped and had the ball on his fingertips, but Benny Sapp knocked the ball away.

Steelers 27, Texans 7

HOUSTON — Ben Roethlisberger led Pittsburgh to scores on its first four drives, a pair of field goals sandwiched around touchdown passes of 16 and 14 yards to Hines Ward.

Pittsburgh (2-0) won its 16th straight regular-season game, matching the Miami teams of 1971-73 and 1983-84 for the second-best streak in league history, and their eighth straight on the road.

In losing their home opener, the Texans (0-2) continued to look lost on offense, especially quarterback David Carr, who was 16-of-26 for 167 yards.

Eagles 42, 49ers 3

PHILADELPHIA — Donovan McNabb threw four of his five touchdown passes in the first 19 minutes, including a pair to Terrell Owens.

McNabb played three quarters, finishing 23-of-29 for 342 yards and tying his career-best for TD passes. Owens had five catches for 143 yards — all in the opening 19 minutes — in his first game against his former team. L.J. Smith caught a career-best nine passes for 119 yards and one TD for Philadelphia (1-1).

Alex Smith, the top pick in the NFL draft, made his debut for San Francisco (1-1), playing the last series.

Bengals 37, Vikings 8

CINCINNATI — Chad Johnson caught a 70-yard touchdown pass on the game's second play, and the Bengals (2-0) had an easy time against the Vikings (0-2), rolling up 337 yards and a 27-0 lead in the first half.

Daunte Culpepper had a miserable time, throwing a career-high five interceptions, three to Deltha O'Neal. The Vikings turned the ball over seven times in all.

Buccaneers 19, Bills 3

TAMPA, Fla. — Carnell ''Cadillac'' Williams topped 100 yards rushing for the second straight week, returning from a foot sprain to finish a 128-yard performance that helped Tampa Bay (2-0) dominate Buffalo (1-1).

Willis McGahee was held to 34 yards on 13 carries after gaining 117 in the Bills' season-opening victory over Houston. Star receiver Eric Moulds had one catch for 8 yards as Tampa Bay's defense held the opposition without an offensive touchdown for the second straight game.

Titans 25, Ravens 10

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Steve McNair threw a touchdown pass and Rob Bironas kicked field goals of 39, 29 and 47 yards as the NFL's youngest team beat Baltimore.

The rebuilding Titans (1-1) had replaced five starters on defense this offseason, but they easily outplayed Baltimore's Pro Bowl-stocked unit with six sacks and two turnovers, including linebacker Brad Kassell's 21-yard interception return in the fourth quarter.

Anthony Wright started over Kyle Boller for Baltimore (0-2) and was 25-of-40 for 212 yards.

Bears 38, Lions 6

CHICAGO — Chicago (1-1) scored touchdowns on offense, defense and special teams.

After struggling to move the ball a week earlier, the Bears' Thomas Jones led Chicago with 139 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries. Kyle Orton completed 14 of 21 passes for 150 yards and a touchdown, and did not throw an interception.

Joey Harrington of Detroit (1-1) threw a career-high five INTs.

Seahawks 21, Falcons 18

SEATTLE — The Seahawks (1-1) took a 21-0 halftime lead and barely held on.

Shaun Alexander ran for 144 yards and a touchdown and Matt Hasselbeck threw for 281 yards and two more TDs. Still, it was the defense that won it for the Seahawks, shutting down the Falcons after Atlanta (1-1) got the ball back with 2:39 left at its 27 needing just a field goal to send the game to overtime.

Jets 17, Dolphins 7

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Chad Pennington threw two touchdown passes, including a 1-yarder to Jerald Sowell in the fourth quarter, to help atone for six fumbles last week in an embarrassing loss to Kansas City.

Gus Frerotte threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Randy McMichael at the start of the quarter, closing the Dolphins (1-1) to 10-7. On the ensuing drive, Pennington went 7-of-7 for 74 yards to give the Jets (1-1) the clinching TD.

Rams 17, Cardinals 12

TEMPE, Ariz. — Kurt Warner fell a few yards shy of a memorable comeback against his former team.

Warner, 29-for-42 for 327 yards in his first game against St. Louis (1-1), drove Arizona (0-2) to the 5-yard line in the final seconds. But a sack by Adam Archuleta and a false start by offensive tackle Leonard Davis preserved the Rams' victory.

Marc Bulger directed touchdown drives on St. Louis' first possession of each half.

Broncos 20, Chargers 17

DENVER — Jason Elam kicked a 41-yard field goal with 5 seconds left after Ron Dayne came off the bench and ran six times for 39 yards on the winning drive, including an 11-yard gain on fourth-and-1 from the Chargers 33.

It saved the Broncos (1-1) from going 0-2 for the first time since 1999. Instead, it's San Diego (0-2) that remains winless despite leading 14-3 early and turning the sellout crowd at Invesco Field squarely against the home team.

Browns 26, Packers 24

GREEN BAY, Wisc. — Trent Dilfer won for the first time in nine trips to Lambeau Field, giving new coach Romeo Crennel his first win for Cleveland (1-1). Dilfer threw an 80-yard touchdown pass to Braylon Edwards and a game-icing 62-yarder to Steve Heiden with 1:50 remaining.

Brett Favre of Green Bay (0-2) broke John Elway's single-stadium NFL touchdown record of 180 on a 4-yard toss to Tony Fisher with 4 seconds left.

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