In the National Football League, it seems that you are only as good as your last game. If that is truly the case, than the Carolina Panthers have a long way to go if they think they are going to be able to make the kind of run they did last year when they found themselves in the NFC Championship game before getting beat up in Seattle. Sunday in basically a game that they had to have to keep pace with the front running Saints, the Panthers played one of their worst games of the season, losing to a Redskins team that had little to play for, 17-13 at FedEx Field in Washington.
Maybe more alarming is that Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme, a veteran who has played in plenty of big games with the Panthers, was outshined by a quarterback playing in just his second Pro football game. While the numbers don’t translate, Skins QB Jason Campbell threw for 218 yards, two TD’s and one pick, but made the play of the day with the Skins down 13-10 with 4:26 left. Campbell, who could not hear the play that was called because his transmitter in his helmet went dead, called a play that ended up resulting in a 66-yard catch and run between he and tight end Chris Cooley that resulted in a score that put the Redskins up for good.
Delhomme, who seemed shaky most of the afternoon, had two chances to lead the Panthers back in the final minutes, but ended up getting sacked on one 4th down, then threw an awful interception in the end zone as he looked for Steve Smith in the last Panthers drive of the game. Delhomme threw 38 times, completing 23 passes for 168 yards, two touchdown and two interceptions. He was only sacked once, but never seemed to get in any sort of rhythm that allowed him to get the ball to Smith, the teams playmaker.
The stunning Panthers loss also was stinging since the Saints got back on track in Atlanta, ending their two-game losing streak to regain a one-game lead in the NFC South. The Panthers still have a game in the SuperDome left with the Saints to try and get back that one game, but if Delhomme and the offense sputters like Sunday against the Redskins, the division is already lost.