The Panthers were hoping to build on two straight wins Sunday as they took on the Buffalo Bills at Bank of America Stadium. Instead, after a frustrating day that left more questions than answers, the Panthers were left scratching their heads on where they go from here after a lackluster 20-9 setback to the Bills.
It may be time for the Panthers to finally admit that changes have to be made. Sunday the focus was once again on QB Jake Delhomme, who added to his league-leading interception total, throwing three interceptions. It was tough to see as the Panthers dominated the Bills in the stats department, outgainig them 425 to 167, but the three picks were too much to overcome.
“I’m not a dummy,” Delhomme said. “When you’re not playing well offensively, you always have to look at the quarterback. I don’t think there’s any doubt. I’m certainly not looking to give it up by any stretch of the imagination, but let’s be real here. Two big turnovers today really affected us.”
Two of the picks led directly to Bills touchdowns. Delhomme’s first pick came on the Panthers third possession when he overthrew tight end Gary Barnidge and Bills safety Jairus Byrd returned the ball 37 yards to the Panthers 7-yard line. Two plays later, Marshawn Lynch, scored on a 7-yard touchdown run to make it 7-0.
The Panthers got two points back when Hollis Thomas tackled Fred Jackson in the end zone to make it a 7-2 game. But chances were missed by the Panthers, as after two missed field goals by John Kasay from 43 and 39 yards, the Bills got another TD in the third quarter after Delhomme’s pass tipped off the hands of Steve Smith and into the arms of Byrd, who took it 30 yards to the Panthers 27.
The Bills were able to get in the end zone as Ryan Fitzpatrick hit Lee Evans with a two-yard score to make it 14-2, and for pretty much all purposes the game was over. After a Buffalo field goal made it 17-2, the Panthers got their only TD of the day when DeAngelo Williams scored to make it 17-9 with 6:34 left in the game.
The Panthers put up a stand to get the ball back with 5:25 left, but Kenny Moore muffed a punt and the Bills recovered, ending the final real Bills chance. “I’m kind of almost numb. I don’t know,” Delhomme said. “We move the ball up and down the field. They made plays. Two overthrows. Other than that I don’t have any excuse or anything. That’s it. Disappointing.”
Now sitting at 2-4, it will be interesting to see if under the pressure to do anything, if coach John Fox makes any changes to the lineup anytime soon. Or if can get away with not.