Panthers 26, Chargers 24: Jake Delhomme Will Take a Few Extra Biscuitz This Week, Thanks
Jake Delhomme, after completing a highly improbable walk-off touchdown pass to Dante Rosario (see right) was by all accounts pretty emotional, "Oh man, I don't know how to put in words. Let's be honest ... Games like this, they don't happen often. This ranks for me, I promise you, and with good reason."
Delhomme missed all of last season, and believe me when I say that having to watch Mittens mangle your team for an entire season is good enough reason to cry.
The comeback was especially impressive because it came amid an efficient three touchdown performance by Philip Rivers and a near 100 yard game for LaDanian Tomlinson. Of course, it was never a blowout: Carolina showed offensive balance and defensive toughness and in the end, and more importantly, they flashed some of Delhomme's trademark last second luck.
And luck matters a whole hell of a lot more in a short football season than it does in other sports -- a few good bounces and a few close wins turns a decent team into a playoff and Super Bowl contender.
Which is what both of these teams are going to be in 2008, and for likely the same reason: the return of their quarterbacks. It's an encouraging sign for San Diego that Rivers played like he did against a tough and underrated defense, considering he was Captain Strugglesworth last year.
Speaking of struggling, Steve Smith failed to record a single reception in this game. Ah, yes. He was suspended. Which is, to drop a large understatement, highly encouraging for Carolina. And it shows what a difference a year makes, from having DeShaun Foster fumbling around the backfield to watching DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart average 4.96 yards per carry together, something that Panthers fans haven't seen since Stephen Davis roamed the Bank of America halls.
And with Rosario, D.J. Hackett, Muhsin Muhammad and even Dwayne Jarrett getting in on the action, things should only look up once Smith returns and doesn't have to face quintuple teams every week.
That average was the result of a revamped offensive line that might not be deep, but is most certainly stout as all get out, especially when you consider what a strong defensive unit that San Diego sports.
And while it might be a touch too early -- and way-hay too much Panthers + NCSU homerism -- to start naming this a potential Super Bowl matchup, health permitting, I'm still totally backing that prediction.