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BillyCarpenter1 10-21-2003 07:38 AM

Panthers try to regain focus

CHARLOTTE — Now that the Carolina Panthers have come crashing back to earth, the big question is where do they go from here?

A year ago, the Panthers followed up their first loss with seven more in a row and plummeted to 3-8 following a perfect 3-0 start.

This year’s team, of course, is more mature and will this week face the New Orleans Saints, a team they beat 19-13 just three weeks ago at Ericsson Stadium.

“I mean, it’s one loss,� Panthers head coach John Fox said on Monday while trying to put Sunday’s 37-17 loss to the Tennessee Titans in perspective. “It is what it is. Last year we strung seven behind that first one. All things are possible in this league, but then again, we may come back and play very well. A lot of that will be based on what our makeup is and how we rebound and start adjusting for New Orleans.�

The good news for Carolina is Tampa Bay (3-3) also lost on Sunday and the Panthers were able to maintain their two-game lead in the NFC South. New Orleans is 3-4, while Atlanta is stuck at 1-6.

Panthers safety Mike Minter said he believes this team will put Sunday’s loss behind them and bounce back with a strong effort against the Saints, a team they can just about bury with another victory. A victory over New Orleans would give the Panthers what is essentially a 3 1/2-game lead over the Saints, considering they’d have won both head-to-head games.

“We’re a better football team than last year,� Minter said. “We’re smarter and tougher and more mature than last year. So this one loss is not going to sink this football team. We’re going to come back and work hard and go down to New Orleans and get ready to win one.�

Fox said the key for the Panthers is to learn from their mistakes and, just like a victory, let the game go and return to work on Wednesday with a new sense of urgency.

“As with most high-character teams, nobody ever enjoys losing,� Fox said. “It doesn’t bode well with anybody in that room. How you respond to adversity as well as prosperity usually defines what kind of season you’re going to have. We’ll see how we do this week.�

One of the keys for the Panthers is not to fall behind to a high-powered Saints (3-4) team that is coming off two straight wins, including a 45-17 drubbing of the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.

Carolina fell behind 17-0 in the first quarter and then watched as the Titans extended that lead to 27-3 at the break.

Fox said “no team is built to come back from 27-3.�

In particular, his team.

Carolina’s strength is its running game and Fox knows a steady diet of Stephen Davis and DeShaun Foster represents the Panthers’ best chances of winning.

“The score dictated what we did in the second half,� Fox said.

“We know we’ve won five games doing it this way and we know that if we can win five out six running this style of offense and playing this type of defense, I will take that any day,� Panthers guard Kevin Donnalley said. “I think a lot of teams would.�

For the first time since last December, players were forced to practice and meet with coaches the day after a game to go over game film. When the Panthers win, Fox gives them the day off from practice and allows players to watch film on their own instead of with the coaches.

The Panthers had won seven straight regular season games and 11 straight including the preseason prior to Sunday’s defeat.

“That’s just the way we do things,� Fox said.

WhoDat 10-21-2003 09:07 AM

Panthers try to regain focus
I\'m worried about this one.

BillyCarpenter1 10-21-2003 09:26 AM

Panthers try to regain focus
WhoDat --

I\'m worried about it to. But, I\'m worried about all of the games we have left, if you want to know the truth !!

This is a game we should win. We have everything we need to easily win this game and that\'s OFFENSE. More importantly a high power passing game and a moblie QB who can create problems for the panthers defense. I like this match-up, because of the Panthers inability to score points.

I think the \"key\" to this game is Aaron Brooks. Say what you want to about Brooks play this year, but he has been pretty consistant in almost every game this year. He hasn\'t played at pro-bowl level but he has made good decisions. This offense should have gained a lot of confiedence and it they come out clicking this game could be over with quick.

Also, because Carolina can\'t run away with the game, we will have a shot even if the offense doesn\'t put up 30-points.

[Edited on 21/10/2003 by BillyCarpenter1]

WhoDat 10-21-2003 09:47 AM

Panthers try to regain focus
I don\'t know if I\'d say that we SHOULD win it, but we can win it. I\'m getting nervous though b/c a) it\'s an important one - a game we really need to win - and we never play well in those, b) Carolina seems hungry to beat somebody up after their first loss and focused on the Saints, and c) we pretty much always find a way to lose after a big win. I hope we can win, but I\'m not so sure we will. Even with a loss though, all might not be lost if we can beat the Bucs. We\'ve got two teams left that we SHOULD lose to (based on record) and the Panthers are one of them. Dallas is the other. We SHOULD beat JAX, NYG, and ATL, so that would make us 6-6. The Tampa, Philly, and Washington games will make all the difference in the world. Let\'s just get a win and officially be on a roll, huh?

BillyCarpenter1 10-21-2003 09:54 AM

Panthers try to regain focus
Yeah, I agree. I feel this game is MUCH more important for us. Of course, who know\'s how the Panthers feel about this game. This might be a \"statement\" game for them, to let the world know they are \"for real.\" You couldn\'t hardly write a script better for this matchup--

1. Jake Delhomme returns to the Big Easy.
2. Panthers lose big last week.
3. Brooks and the offense demolish the Falcons and come in very confident.
4. We need this game to get to .500

It\'s gonna be a fun one !!

WhoDat 10-21-2003 09:56 AM

Panthers try to regain focus
Or a miserable one. We\'ll have to wait and find out.

BillyCarpenter1 10-21-2003 10:03 AM

Panthers try to regain focus

Or a miserable one. We\'ll have to wait and find out.
OK. Look Mister...........You were postive for the last 2-weeks and we won both times. Now you are leaning towards being negitive. If we lose, I\'m holding you personally responsible.

I\'m convinced if you are positive this week that we will win :exclam:

WhoDat 10-21-2003 12:00 PM

Panthers try to regain focus
Holy Turd Billy, I always suspected that you thought I was God and secretly wanted me to really control the Saints, but what\'s all that about? :P

OK, OK. I\'m with you. This one is scary, but I like the Saints to pull it out. The first half will be questionable. Stephen Davis will have 75 yards and a TD. Delhomme has 96 yards and a score, and they kick a field goal. Saints turn the ball over once and can\'t really seem to get going after an opening drive that marched down the field but sputtered at the 13 and forced them (after two penalties) to kick a 40 yard field goal. Saints manage to get a good punt return and short field at the end of the half and a nice two minute drill results in a 7 yard TD pass to Pathon. Saints go in down only 17-10, but deserving to be down more.

HOWEVER, the second half is a totally different story. The O comes back to life. Deuce\'s 30 yards on 13 carries in the first half turns into 103 yards and a TD on 22 carries. Brooks ends up 19 of 31 for 251 yards and three scores. Davis ends up with 97 yards rushing and Delhomme throws for 270 yards but only one score and two ints. They get in the endzone late in the game, but it\'s not enough. Saints win a crazy one 31-24 after an onsides kick goes out of bounds.

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