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New England at Carolina

Panthers aren't pretty but deal rare loss to Patriots

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports

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 past 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.

Delhomme exchanged words with Carolina safety Mike Minter as the two passed on the field, then had an exchange with Panthers coach John Fox.

Minter claimed later he only offered words of encouragement to Delhomme, and it must have been misinterpreted.

But Delhomme was still fuming when he got back on the field, and the Panthers called three consecutive running plays before he attempted another pass.

But Carolina's defense stopped the Patriots from capitalizing with their first big play of the season. Mike Rucker swiped the ball out of Brady's hands and Peppers scooped it out. It set Davis' third touchdown of the game and put the Panthers up 27-17.


  • New England cornerbacks Tyrone Poole and Chad Scott did not play because of injury, and backup Randall Gay was hurt in the second quarter.
  • Panthers rookie safety Thomas Davis, who struggled last week against New Orleans, was replaced in the starting lineup by Marlon McCree. Davis finished with two tackles and a sack.
  • Carolina cornerback Ken Lucas, a free-agent acquisition, had a game-high 10 tackles.
  • Deion Branch had eight catches for 60 yards.
  • Troy Brown helped set up Graham's touchdown with a 71-yard catch.
Copyright 2016 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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Carolina's Stephen Davis celebrates a rushing touchdown with teammate Travelle Wharton.
Carolina's Stephen Davis celebrates a rushing touchdown with teammate Travelle Wharton. (AP)


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Scoring Summary
TDDaniel Graham, 1 Yd pass from Tom Brady (Adam Vinatieri kick is good), 3:40. Drive: 4 plays, 80 yards in 1:48.
TDStephen Davis, 1 Yd run (John Kasay kick is good), 1:13. Drive: 5 plays, 69 yards in 2:27.
FGJohn Kasay 51 Yd, 3:38. Drive: 11 plays, 39 yards in 5:27.
TDStephen Davis, 1 Yd run (John Kasay kick is good), 1:45. Drive: 3 plays, 13 yards in 0:25.
FGJohn Kasay 52 Yd, 11:35. Drive: 6 plays, 31 yards in 3:25.
FGAdam Vinatieri 45 Yd, 6:25. Drive: 10 plays, 40 yards in 5:10.
TDMike Vrabel, 24 Yd interception return (Adam Vinatieri kick is good), 6:08.
TDStephen Davis, 1 Yd run (John Kasay kick is good), 14:46. Drive: 4 plays, 12 yards in 1:25.
Players of the Game

S. Davis
Rush 25
Yds 77
Avg 3.1
TD 3

M. Vrabel
Tk 3
Sck 0.0
Int 1
Fumb Rec 0
New England
T. Brady23/4427011
C. Dillon1436014
K. Faulk2304
T. Brown387071
D. Branch860017
D. Givens556019
T. Dwight232024
K. Faulk327022
B. Watson1707
D. Graham1111
J. Delhomme11/2615401
S. Davis2577311
D. Foster737013
J. Delhomme3-200
R. Proehl1-80-8
R. Proehl363041
S. Smith434019
D. Foster123023
K. Mangum218012
N. Goings116016
Complete Player Stats
Other Games
NYG 27 Final
NO 10
WAS 14 Final
DAL 13
KC 23 Final
OAK 17
MIA 7 Final
NYJ 17
PIT 27 Final
CLE 26 Final
GB 24
SD 17 Final
DEN 20
ATL 18 Final
SEA 21
STL 17 Final
ARI 12
BAL 10 Final
TEN 25
BUF 3 Final
TB 19
SF 3 Final
PHI 42
JAC 3 Final
IND 10
MIN 8 Final
CIN 37
DET 6 Final
CHI 38