Ultimate victory in the game was only part of it. What was the most sought after prize on this night was a group of victories.
The new and improved offensive line. Victory.
DeAngelo Williams carrying the rock aggressively. Victory.
Julius Peppers returning to his former self. Victory.
How could anyone ask for anything more? This was exactly the start the Panthers and John Fox wanted.
When the starters were in the game, they dominated on both defense and offense. They appeared to be a fresh team, fast, strong and confident. The Colts starters didn’t pose much of a threat outside of a single drive that netted them only three points.
The final score might indicate that Carolina won this game 23-20 in overtime on a John Kasay field goal. That’s not as important as the score that was displayed on the scoreboard at Bank of America Stadium when both teams sat their starters on the bench: Carolina 14, Indianapolis 3.
Early in this game, Julius Peppers took an aggressive approach to reach reach Peyton Manning’s replacement, Jim Sorgi and made the most of it getting credit for both the sack and the forced fumble. Peppers’ team recovered.
That’s when the offense came on and began to display the newly rebuilt offensive line. If this was any indication of what to expect from this group of five monsters, we can all begin talking loud and proud about our running game.
Large holes were created in the Colts defense and DeAngelo Williams took advantage. In a little over 3 minutes of game time, Williams had gained 55 yards and scored 2 touchdowns. One of his scores came on an explosive 10 yard run.
Jonathan Stewart was held out of this game but he had to be wondering just how easy it would be to take the starting job away from Williams.
Meanwhile, Jake Delhomme only attempted on pass to Muhsin Muhammad in the end zone which was defended closely. It fell incomplete. A better look at how his reconstructed elbow will perform will have to wait another week.
It was the kind of performance we had all hoped for from the starters. This was exactly what the doctor ordered. More of this and we will expect game victories to come in bunches this season – big bunches.
Here are some game notes courtesy of the Charlotte Observer.
Second-team quarterback Matt Moore looked sharp, completing seven 7 of 14 passes for 107 yards and no interceptions.
Backup running back Nick Goings was quick to the hole and made some nice cuts running the ball (seven carries, 27 yards).
Receiver Dwayne Jarrett, a 2007 second-round pick trying to make good after a disappointing rookie year, had three first-half receptions for 43 yards.
Receiver Jason Carter (three catches, 32 yards) continued to make a case that he should make the team and perhaps even get some regular-season playing time.
Rookie linebacker Dan Connor, a former Penn State All-American, had five unassisted tackles in his pro debut.
Kickoff specialist Rhys Lloyd boomed all but one of his kickoffs into or out of the end zone.
Carolina’s second-team defense didn’t fare so well, giving up two second-quarter touchdowns with third-team quarterback Jared Lorenzen directing the Colts’ offense.