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Carolina at St. Louis

Smith silences St. Louis again, lifts Panthers over Rams

CBSSports.com wire reports

ST. LOUIS -- Steve Smith conjured echoes of the 2003 playoffs with another long touchdown catch that propelled the Carolina Panthers and quieted the same St. Louis crowd.

Smith outsprinted Tye Hill on a 68-yard catch for the go-ahead play in Carolina's 27-13 opening victory over the Rams on Sunday. As Smith eased into the end zone, Hill could only watch as he stumbled and then slid on his stomach for several yards.

"Hey, I make plays," Smith said. "That's what I'm here to do."

The play was reminiscent of Smith's 69-yard shocker in the second overtime of the 2003 divisional playoff game between the teams that left Rams safety Jason Sehorn grasping only air and sent Carolina toward its first Super Bowl appearance.

The Rams' decision to give feature back Steven Jackson the preseason off backfired. Jackson lost two fumbles on consecutive carries in the third quarter, equaling his season total from last year.

"Tests come, tests go, I've just got to be able to withstand the storm," Jackson said. "You can't give a testimony without going through a test."

The first fumble negated a scoring opportunity, with Julius Peppers recovering at the Carolina 26. The fumble led to Smith's TD catch.

The Rams' defense saved Jackson on the second fumble, with hits by Brandon Chillar and Corey Chavous stripping DeShaun Foster at the St. Louis 3.

Jackson had 58 yards on 18 carries and one catch for 3 yards, his worst outing and first below 100 yards since he totaled 57 yards rushing and receiving last Nov. 19 in a 15-0 loss at Carolina. He was held below 100 yards in only one other game last year.

"No matter what, we don't let the ball get run on us," Panthers defensive end Mike Rucker said. "Once you make them one-dimensional, then they have to go up in the air."

St. Louis also lost seven-time Pro Bowl offensive tackle Orlando Pace, who injured his shoulder late in the first half and did not return. Pace missed half of last season with a torn triceps and coach Scott Linehan said an MRI exam was scheduled for Monday.

"It's a pretty bad sprain," Linehan said. "We'll know more tomorrow."

Smith had seven catches for 118 yards while schooling Hill, the Rams' first-round pick last year. During the buildup to the game, he accused Hill of bragging to Panthers backup running back DeAngelo Williams about "shutting me down."

The catch by the Panthers' three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver made it 14-13 midway through the third quarter.

"I'm not going to stoop to that level, all I'm going to do is congratulate my adversaries and then my teammates.

"You know, people who talk really don't have much to talk about."

Torry Holt caught a short touchdown pass and Dante Hall had an 84-yard kickoff return to set up one of two field goals by Jeff Wilkins for the Rams. St. Louis got no touchdowns from the first-string offense in the preseason and those woes carried over to the opener.

Jake Delhomme hit his first seven passes and finished 18-for-27 for 201 yards and three touchdowns and no interceptions for Carolina. He also hit Drew Carter for scores of 10 and 9 yards, the second TD for a 24-13 lead in the fourth quarter. The Panthers totaled 186 yards rushing, 94 by Foster and 62 by Williams, against a unit that ranked 31st in the NFL last year but added first-round pick Adam Carriker.

The Panthers overcame two lost fumbles, one each by Williams and Foster.

Each team scored on its opening possession. Delhomme was 6-for-6 for 35 yards and the Panthers also had a 29-yard pass interference call on a play involving Smith in a drive capped by Carter's 10-yard scoring catch.

Hall, who replaced the injured Drew Bennett as the Rams' third wide receiver, had two key catches on the Rams' opening possession capped by a 3-yard toss from Marc Bulger to Holt. Bulger, who signed a six-year, $60 million contract extension during training camp, had an off day, going 22-for-42 for 167 yards and an interception.


  • Rams tight end Randy McMichael, who had no catches in the preseason, was shut out for the first three quarters before getting two receptions for 24 yards in the final six minutes.
  • Jason Baker averaged 52.7 yards on three punts for the Panthers, and Hall totaled 6 yards on two returns plus a fair catch.
  • Linehan said Bennett, who signed a six-year free agent contract in the offseason, was held out for fear he'd aggravate a quadriceps injury.
  • The Panthers ended a three-game losing streak in the opener.
  • Smith has 19 career 100-yard receiving games.
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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Steve Smith turns on the jets after hauling in a pass from Jake Delhomme ...
Steve Smith turns on the jets after hauling in a pass from Jake Delhomme ... (AP)


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Scoring Summary
TDDrew Carter, 10 Yd pass from Jake Delhomme (John Kasay kick is good), 9:20. Drive: 9 plays, 78 yards in 5:40.
TDTorry Holt, 3 Yd pass from Marc Bulger (Jeff Wilkins kick is good), 2:00. Drive: 15 plays, 67 yards in 7:20.
FGJeff Wilkins 42 Yd, 0:00. Drive: 8 plays, 34 yards in 1:50.
FGJeff Wilkins 28 Yd, 12:51. Drive: 4 plays, 7 yards in 2:09.
TDSteve Smith, 68 Yd pass from Jake Delhomme (John Kasay kick is good), 8:33. Drive: 2 plays, 74 yards in 0:46.
FGJohn Kasay 34 Yd, 14:56. Drive: 8 plays, 41 yards in 4:06.
TDDrew Carter, 9 Yd pass from Jake Delhomme (John Kasay kick is good), 7:15. Drive: 12 plays, 65 yards in 6:32.
FGJohn Kasay 32 Yd, 1:04. Drive: 9 plays, 40 yards in 4:03.
Players of the Game

M. Bulger
Att 42
Comp 22
Yds 167
TD 1

J. Delhomme
Att 27
Comp 18
Yds 201
TD 3
J. Delhomme18/2720130
D. Foster1794020
D. Williams1562012
B. Hoover216010
J. Delhomme312011
S. Smith1202
S. Smith7118168
J. King535012
D. Carter319210
D. Williams113013
K. Colbert1909
D. Foster1707
St. Louis
M. Bulger22/4216710
S. Jackson1858013
M. Bulger318014
T. Holt873118
R. McMichael224016
I. Bruce320015
D. Hall218012
B. Leonard31208
D. Looker210010
M. Hedgecock1707
S. Jackson1303
Complete Player Stats
Other Games
ARI 17 Final
SF 20
BAL 20 Final
CIN 27
NYG 35 Final
DAL 45
TB 6 Final
SEA 20
CHI 3 Final
SD 14
DET 36 Final
OAK 21
MIA 13 Final
WAS 16
NE 38 Final
NYJ 14
ATL 3 Final
MIN 24
TEN 13 Final
JAC 10
KC 3 Final
HOU 20
PHI 13 Final
GB 16
PIT 34 Final
DEN 15 Final
BUF 14
NO 10 Final
IND 41