Week 2 Game Recap: New England Patriots 17, Carolina Panthers 27
What you need to know
The Patriots looked extremely sloppy at the start of the game. The Carolina crowd noise seemed to rattle the offensive line, causing false start penalties on the first play of the game, as well as the first play of their second possession.
The offense looked out of sync and the running game struggled to move the chains, so the Patriots had to rely heavily on the passing game and the arm of QB Tom Brady. New England found the end zone on their third possession of the game, following a 71 yard reception by Troy Brown, when Brady connected with TE Daniel Graham from one yard out. This would prove to be Tom Bradyís only touchdown pass of the game, and the QB finished 23 out of 44 for 270 yards.
Deion Branch was targeted 14 times and was the teamís leading pass catcher, hauling in eight receptions for 60 yards. However, he averaged only 7.5 yards per catch and failed to come down with any big plays down field.
Corey Dillon failed to get going on the ground and was held in check by the Carolina defense. He finished the game with a mere 36 yards on 14 carries and was a non-factor in the passing game with 0 targets. Dillon managed only four yards on five carries in the second half and the team had only one first down rushing for the entire game. You read that right Ė New England gained one first down by rushing the ball. (They gained 11 first downs by passing.)
Turnovers, penalties, and poor special teams play killed the Patriots. They were penalized 12 times during the game for 86 yards, with nine of them coming on the offensive end. Brady turned the ball over twice, once on an interception and another on a fumble. TE Ben Watson also fumbled on the last possession, ending any chance of the team cutting into Carolinaís 10 point lead.
The Carolina Panthers earned their first win of the season with strong defensive and special teams play. The offense looked mediocre at times, but was able to capitalize on two New England turnovers for 10 of the clubís 27 points.
Jake Delhomme was far from spectacular, completing 11 of 26 passes for 154 yards and no touchdowns. He struggled to find open receivers in New Englandís tight secondary and threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown in the third quarter.
Carolina looked to establish the running game early and often, and they leaned heavily on RB Stephen Davis throughout the game. In the first half, Davis ran for only 29 yards on 12 carries, but was able to find the end zone twice, both from one yard out. The Panthers continued to lean on him during the second half, where he carried the ball 13 times for 46 yards and another one yard score that put the game out of reach. DeShaun Foster contributed 37 yards on seven carries, including an 11 yard gain on the teamsí first play from scrimmage, and had one reception for 23 yards on three targets.
Steve Smith caught four out of the five balls that were thrown his way for 34 yards and was targeted downfield and in the red zone, but was unable to come up with any big plays. Ricky Proehl, on the other hand, was able to come up with big plays, with a 41 yard reception setting up a Davis touchdown and a 13 yard grab that set up a John Kasay field goal.
Carolinaís special teams played a big factor in the game, with two 50+ yard field goals from Kasay, and a 76 yard punt return from CB Chris Gamble before the half that led to a Stephen Davis touchdown. Steve Smith also had a punt return of 77 yards that was called back for a holding penalty. The Panthersí defense was phenomenal in stopping the run and limiting Tom Bradyís options downfield, as well as forcing turnovers.
DE Julius Peppers lined up at WR at the goal line, and Delhomme attempted to throw a lob pass for a score. Both Peppers and Patriot S Eugene Wilson were called for interference penalties on the play.
What you ought to know
|QB Tom Brady, Pass: 23 - 44 - 270 - 1 TD / 1 INT|
Brady had a mediocre game, throwing for one score and turning the ball over twice. He didnít get any help from the running game, and was pressured for most of the game. Penalties killed the offense and it seemed like every time they got something going, a penalty killed their momentum. Brady completed passes to seven different receivers and connected with Troy Brown for the offenseís only big play, but never got into rhythm. Both of his turnovers led to Panther scores.
Dillon looked frustrated for the second game in a row and could not find running room in the Carolina defense. The Patriots could not get the running game going in the first half, and seemed to abandon it in the second half, where Dillon had only five carries. He was a non factor in the passing game with 0 targets and was replaced by Kevin Faulk on third downs.
|RB Kevin Faulk, Rush: 2 - 3 - 0, Rec: 3 - 27 - 0 (5 targets)|
Faulkís contributions were primarily in the passing game, where he had 27 yards receiving on three catches. He was in the game mostly on third downs, during the teamís two minute drill, and also on the clubís last possession of the game.
Branch was Tom Bradyís favorite target, getting 14 looks from the Patriots QB, but was unable to shake the Carolina secondary for any significant gains. He did have four catches for first downs, and seemed to be Bradyís first look on third downs.
Givens also had double digit targets with ten, grabbing five of them for 56 yards. He had a 19 yard reception on the last drive, but outside of that, neither he nor Branch could come up with the big plays the Patriots needed.
Brown was part of the teamís only big offensive play of the game, hauling in a short pass from Tom Brady and taking it 71 yards inside the Carolina five yard line. He took a big hit from DB Ken Lucas on the play, but was able to hang onto the ball and bounce right back up. One of his targets came on the Brady interception, a short route that was jumped by Carolina LB Will Witherspoon.
Dwight had a nice 24 yard reception in the second quarter that got the Patriots into field goal range, but three plays later Brady was intercepted, killing the drive.
Watson had only one reception, a catch on New Englandís last drive that he fumbled away, ending any chance the Patriots had at a miracle comeback. He did have a great special teams play, chasing down Chris Gamble as he cut back on his 71 yard punt return and saving a touchdown. Itís not every day that you see a tight end running down a defensive back.
Grahamís only catch came on the Patriotsí only scoring drive from one yard out. He was penalized on two false start penalties.
Vinatieri connected on a 45 yard field goal and made both of his extra point attempts.
The Patriots held Carolina to a mere 2.9 yards per carry and a long run of only 13 yards, but could not keep Stephen Davis out of the end zone. In all fairness to them, all three of his scored were from one yard out, two of which followed pass interference calls in the end zone.
The New England secondary held the Carolina offense in check and pressured QB Jake Delhomme, forcing him to complete only 46% of his pass attempts. In the second quarter, a pass interference call on S Eugene Wilson on third down inside the New England ten yard line gave the Panthers first and goal from the one, where Stephen Davis capitalized on his second touchdown. They helped the Patriots get back into the game in the third quarter, pressuring Delhomme and forcing him to throw an ill advised pass that was intercepted by LB Mike Vrabel and returned for a touchdown. In the fourth quarter, Wilson was penalized again, this time on offsetting pass interference penalties, trying to cover Carolina DE Julius Peppers, who lined up at WR for a jump ball. Two plays later, Davis had his third rushing TD of the game.
|QB Jake Delhomme, Pass: 11 - 26 - 154 - 0 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 3 - -2 - 0|
Delhomme completed less than half of his pass attempts, and made a poor decision in the third quarter on his interception, which was taken back for a Patriot touchdown. He was able to connect with WR Ricky Proehl for a 41 yard gain that led to a Davis rushing score. He was pressured by New Englandís pass rush the whole game, and could not exploit New Englandís injury plagued secondary.
Davis was able to convert on three rushing touchdowns, all from one yard out, but gained only 77 yards on 25 carries. To be fair, one TD looked like a bad call as he didnít seem to break the plane of the end zone. He was a big factor in Carolinaís offensive game plan and ran the ball hard. He just could not find much running room against a tough Patriot defense. His long run of the game was only 11 yards, and he was not a factor in the passing game.
Foster spelled Davis occasionally, and had some success running the ball, gaining 37 yards on seven carries. He was in the game on third down passing situations, and had one catch for 23 yards. He was not given any goal line carries.
Goings made a nice catch and run for 16 yards, but was not used much before or after it.
|WR Ricky Proehl, Rush: 1 - -8 - 0, Rec: 3 - 63 - 0 (4 targets)|
Proehl had a 41 yard catch which led to a Davis touchdown run, a nine yard catch for a first down, and a 13 yard catch that set up a Kasay field goal. All three of his catches were key plays for the Panthers. He also had one rush for -8 yards.
Smith caught four of the five balls thrown to him, but also struggled to make the big plays weíre accustomed to seeing him make. He was targeted in the end zone, but Delhomme put a little too much on it and it fell incomplete. Smith had a productive day returning punts, with a 10.4 yard average, including a 21 yard return. He returned one punt 77 yards for a touchdown, but it was called back for a holding penalty.
Colbert failed to make a catch on eight targets, but was thrown to on four straight plays in the first quarter.
Gardner was thrown to in the end zone in the fourth quarter, but couldnít make the grab.
Mangum had two catches, one of which went for a first down.
Kasay converted all three of his extra points, and hit field goals from 51 and 52 yards.
The Panther defense shut Corey Dillon down and forced the Patriots to try to beat them through the air. They gave up only 39 yards rushing and held the Patriots to a 2.4 yard per carry average. Dillon had one run of 14 yards, but was limited to only 22 yards on his other 13 rushes. New England only had one first down rushing for the game, and was held to 4 yards rushing in the second half.
Carolinaís pass defense played well, but seemed to have mix ups in coverage on both the Graham touchdown reception and the long pass play to Troy Brown. The defensive unit forced two fumbles, and intercepted a Brady pass. While the Patriots were able to spread the ball around, their big plays were limited.