Week 12 Game Recap: Carolina Panthers 13, Buffalo Bills 9
What you need to know
The Panthers returned to winning ways with a scrappy victory in Buffalo. LB Dan Morgan was inactive for the game and the contest was played in windy and rainy conditions.
QB Jake Delhomme found seven different receivers and did not look to WR Steve Smith as often as usual. Smith was only targeted four times in the game, catching three passes for 55 yards. Delhomme was efficient on the day, completing 20 of his 27 passing attempts. His one touchdown went to TE Michael Gaines and was the Panthersí first in eight quarters of play.
Stephen Davis started the game but played a minor role in the running game as DeShaun Foster was given most of the work. Davis only had one carry in the second half when the Panthers had a first and goal at the one yard line, and he was stopped for a loss.
The Panthers held the ball for over 35 minutes but only just pulled out the victory. The defense played hard, sacking Losman four times, picking him once, and allowing just 53 net rushing yards.
The Bills were missing TE Mark Campbell, DT Sam Adams and CB Terrence McGee for the game, and fell to their second home defeat of the season after leading late in the game. LG Mike Williams left the game with a back injury and SS Lawyer Milloy departed early with a foot injury.
QB J.P. Losman retained his role as the starter and had a career high 197 passing yards. After opening the game slowly and looking skittish, Losman appeared to gain some confidence. Eric Moulds was his favorite target and the two connected seven times for 84 yards. Losman was intercepted in the final minute with the game on the line.
RB Willis McGahee saw 21 carries in the game but could only gain 53 yards against a very tough run defense. He also stayed in on third down plays and was not spelled by Shaud Williams at all in the game.
The defense contained the Panthers well considering they were on the field for over 35 minutes, but could only create one turnover.
What you ought to know
|QB Jake Delhomme, Pass: 20 - 27 - 191 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 1 - -1 - 0|
The Panthers attempted to play a possession game and Delhomme played very conservatively. Only two passes went for gains of over 20 yards. The receptions were shared among seven different receivers and Steve Smith only saw four targets on the day. Delhomme threw a three yard touchdown pass to Michael Gaines with just over two minutes left in the game. He might have had a touchdown earlier, but overthrew Keary Colbert in the end zone after the receiver had got open. The other blemish on his performance came when he was sacked by Aaron Schobel and then fumbled the ball away.
Foster had a season high 23 carries and took over from Stephen Davis as the main ball carrier six minutes into the game. Foster had two first down runs on the Panthersí second drive, but was then stopped on third and one. He had another three first downs on the Panthersí opening possession of the second half. Foster was given one goal line carry but was stopped for a loss on the play. He was effective as a receiver, catching four of his five targets including a 12 yard reception for a first down. The Panthers reportedly gave Foster the bigger workload in order to assess his potential as he will be a free agent at the end of the year.
Davis had the first five carries for the Panthers, all in the opening six minutes of the game. He seemed set for a big day against the Billsí struggling run defense but he only saw one further carry in the game when he was stopped for a loss on first and goal at the one yard line.
Hoover caught all three passes thrown his way for a total of 20 yards, but did not carry the football.
Goings came in to spell Foster on two plays in the second half.
Rather surprisingly, Colbert was the favorite target for Delhomme on the day. He dropped a pass on third down as the Panthers went three and out on their opening drive, and later dropped an overthrown but catchable ball. The other pass to elude him was badly overthrown after he got free in the end zone. Colbert caught four passes on the day, gaining three first downs. He carried the ball once on an end around, gaining six yards on the play.
After seeing approximately 40% of the targets entering the game, Smith was used sparingly. He caught a short pass on third and five on the Panthersí third drive, before beating the defender for a nine yard gain and a first down. Smith did not catch the ball again until the Panthersí second drive of the second half. He made another good move to gain 14 yards after the catch for a 17 yard gain and a first down. Delhomme went straight back to him for the Panthersí biggest play of the game, as Smith leaped high to bring in a 29 yard pass. Smithís 55 receiving yards helped him to 1161 yards for the season, a career best. Smith also returned four punts for a total of 45 yards.
Proehl was only targeted once in the game but his 24 yard reception was the Panthersí second biggest play of the day.
Hankton was targeted in the end zone once in the game, but the pass was overthrown. He also recovered a Rod Smart fumble on the opening kick off, and advanced the ball 11 yards.
Gaines caught a 13 yard pass on third down on the Panthersí second drive of the game, and ended the day with three catches from four targets. Gaines scored the only touchdown of the day when Delhomme faked a hand off and threw a three yard pass into the end zone with a little over two minutes remaining in the game.
Mangum caught two of his three targets, including a 17 yard reception for a first down.
Kasay kicked a 25 yard field goal to cap a 16 play drive that took over 11 minutes off the clock to open the scoring. He then missed wide right from 45 yards, possibly due to the wind, before converting another 25 yard attempt. He also made his extra point attempt.
In what was a very close game, the Bills tried to stick with their running game as much as possible. Despite the absence of LB Dan Morgan, the Panthers were able to restrict McGahee to 53 yards on 21 carries, allowing very few significant gains.
The pass defense troubled Losman for most of the day. Julius Peppers, Mike Minter, Al Wallace and Jordan Carstens each registered a sack. Marlon McCree made a great play to bat away a pass intended for Lee Evans in the end zone. Will Witherspoon had the chance to intercept Losman on the final drive but couldnít make the play, but Chris Gamble intercepted Losman in the final minute of the game.
|QB J.P. Losman, Pass: 16 - 29 - 197 - 0 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 3 - 0 - 0|
Losman started again for the Bills. He began nervously and looked to be hurried into poor throws before settling into a rhythm and gaining some confidence. The Panthersí pass rush led by Julius Peppers was a constant threat, sacking him four times in the game. Losman had a career high in passing yards with 197, but was unable to lead the Bills into the end zone. LG Mike Williams left the game on the Billsí third possession and was replaced by Bennie Anderson. Moulds was Losmanís favorite target, and he hit him seven times from 11 attempts. Losman almost got the ball to Lee Evans in the end zone but Marlon McCree made a great play to knock the ball away. Losman scrambled well and ran for a first down on a quarterback sneak, but lost and then recovered his own fumble on another play. With under a minute left in the game, and down by four, Losman tried to force the ball to Roscoe Parrish and he was picked by Chris Gamble.
McGahee had 21 carries in the game but was only able to gain a total of 53 yards against the Panthersí tough run defense. In an apparent change of philosophy, the Bills stuck with McGahee on third down instead of using Shaud Williams. He was able to convert on several, but his longest run of the day was only ten yards. He was not targeted at all in the passing game. This was the fifth straight game in which McGahee was held scoreless. McGahee had one ten yard run negated on a holding penalty and appeared to hurt his jaw on the play, but he returned to the game immediately.
Williams was not used in third down situations in this game. He had no carries and was unable to catch the one pass thrown in his direction.
Moulds was Losmanís favorite target, catching seven of the 11 passes thrown his way. He had a 15 yard reception for a first down on the Billsí opening drive and several other key catches in the game. He was open on one play but Losman had the pass knocked down at the line of scrimmage. Losman found Moulds at the one yard line late in the first half but the play was negated on a penalty. Moulds was overthrown on another occasion when open, and might have had a gain of around 30 yards.
Evans was targeted nine times in the game and had a season high five receptions. He might have had a touchdown when Losman threw a good pass to him in the end zone, but the play was broken up by Marlon McCree.
Parrish caught two passes for a total of 30 yards, both of which were for a first down. He also returned three kicks for a total of 72 yards.
Reed was targeted on third and six and caught the pass for a 29 yard gain. He was not used again in the game.
With Mark Campbell inactive, Neufeld was the only Bills tight end to catch a pass. He gained nine yards on his only target.
Lindell made all of his field goal tries, converting from 31 yards, 45 yards and 33 yards and scoring the Billsí only points of the game.
The Billsí run defense played better than in previous games, restricting the Panthers to 113 net rushing yards at 3.4 yards per carry. London Fletcher had a huge game with 11 solo tackles and six assists. The Bills stopped Stephen Davis on first and goal from the one yard line, and then stopped Foster on the next play, but Delhomme was able to fake a hand off and pass the ball into the end zone on third down.
The Bills only had one sack on the day, stripping the ball and recovering a fumble in the process. Delhomme did not attempt many long passes and was not forced into any other errors in the game. Lawyer Milloy left early with a foot injury after making seven solo tackles and two assists.