In a wild week that saw him go from unemployed, to turning down a chance to play with the Cardinals, to beating them with his new team the Panthers on Sunday, the last few days will be some of the most memorable for QB Vinny Testaverde. Vinny was back under center as a starter on Sunday, and did all that he could to help the Panthers gut out a road 25-10 win over the Arizona Cardinals. The win puts the Panthers at 4-2, tied for first in the NFC South. They have won all four road games, and lost their only two homes games.
The Panthers latest triumph was probably their strangest. Playing with a QB they just signed on Wednesday, the team seemed at a decided disadvantage. While Vinny didn’t play great, he made a few big throws, none bigger than a scoring pass that covered 65 yards in the 4th quarter to Steve Smith that put the Panthers ahead for good 15-10. They gutted it out from there, with the defense getting a big interception, and then DeAngelo Williams raced off a 75-yard run and scored from 13 out to put the game away.
Carolina did get the benefit of not having to face hot Kurt Warner, as the Cards QB had to leave the game with an elbow injury in the first quarter. Instead it became an unlikely battle between Panthers starter Testaverde and Cards backup Tim Rattay, who was signed Tuesday when the team placed Matt Leinart on IR with a collarbone injury. Rattay was just 12-for-24 for 159 yards, and unlike Vinny, threw three interceptions and no touchdowns. The Cards had to scale down their playbook with Rattay in there, and it showed. “Obviously, Tim wasn’t comfortable with things, so we had to change our plans,” Whisenhunt said. “That’s what happens in this league.”
The amazing story of Testaverde is one that will be re hashed for sometime to come. The fact he was signed on Wednesday, had three days of practice, and then went out on Sunday and won a game for a team that needed it is an amazing feat that not many could pull off. “Our guys rallied around him,” Carolina coach John Fox said. “I think they saw some of the things he’s capable of during the week in practice.”