I cannot say for certain that it set the tone for the game played Saturday night between the Indianapolis Colts and Carolina Panthers, but based on the simple results, Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers is rounding out to the form that made him one of the more feared DE’s in the National Football League. Peppers had a sack and recovered a fumble and John Kasay kicked a 46 yard field goal in overtime, leading the Panthers to a narrow 23-20 victory over the Colts at Charlotte.
Turnovers killed the Colts as the Panthers recovered 2 miscues deep in Colts’ territory; running back DeAngelo Williams, who was the benefactor as a result, scored twice on the ground as the Panthers built a 14-0 lead. Colts quarterback Jim Sorgi, for the second week in a row, had a sub-par effort; he went 6-of-9 for 65 yards, but was sacked twice and threw an interception, while reserve QB Jared Lorenzen went 12-of-23 for 117 yards and a pair of touchdowns and Quinn Gray went 11-of-19 for 107 yards and 2 interceptions.
The Panthers’ competition for the backup QB job should be interesting as no specific QB stood out; Matt Moore went 7-of-14 for 107 yards, while Lester Ricard went 6-of-12 for 85 yards and Brett Basanez went 7-of-9 for 54 yards but also threw an INT. Jake Delhomme, returning from off-season ligament-replacement surgery, played only a pair of series, attempting only one pass – an incompletion.
The running game of the Colts was ineffective, as they were led by Gray and rookie RB Chad Simpson with 27 yards each; meanwhile, the running game of the Panthers was productive, led by rookie Decori Birmingham with 17 carries for 70 yards while Williams ran for 55 yards on only 9 carries and a pair of TD’s; LaBrandon Toefield added 49 yards on 12 carries. Rookie tight end Jacob Tamme led all Colts receivers with 5 catches for 57 yards while Onrea Jones caught 5 balls for 44 yards; rookie WR Chris Hannon led the Panthers’ receivers with 2 catches for 46 yards while second-year WR Dwayne Jarrett chipped in with 3 receptions for 43 yards.
Cornerback Brannon Condren led the Colts defense with 8 tackles while linebacker Ramon Guzman added 6 tackles and a fumble recovery; CB Keiwan Ratliff intercepted a pass. Rookie LB Dan Connor led the Panthers’ defensive effort with 6 tackles while the aforementioned Peppers recorded a sack and recovered a fumble; safety Quinton Teal, LB Adam Seward and rookie S Joe Fields recorded an INT apiece. The Colts play again on August 16 when they fly to Atlanta to face the Falcons while the Panthers play their second preseason contest when they travel to Philadelphia to face the Eagles.