We don’t often do this but this week we can’t resist – take that, Tampa Bay!

All right, Antonio Bryant is a beast and maybe there is a problem in the Carolina Panthers‘ secondary.  Somebody get Ken Lucas a little help back there, please.

A problem that hasn’t been fixed, however, is the Buccaneers’ run defense.  Coming in, they looked like the strength of the team.  Monday night, the Panthers ran all over the pride Derrick Brooks and company take in the way they hold teams down.  The result was a 38-23 beating of the Bucs.

NFL RECORD ALERTDeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart became the first teammates in NFL history to both rush for 100 yards, a 7.0 ypc average and 2 TD’s in the same game twice in one season.  Congratulations to Slash and Dash!

This game had the markings of a shootout.  After going to the locker room with a 10-3 lead, the Panthers were driving until Jake Delhomme threw an interception that began a back and forth that would last through the third quarter.

Touchdowns were traded until the teams had reached a 17-all tie.  Then came the fourth quarter.

It was time for the running game to take over – and they did.  D-Will and J-Stew were both monsters.  Jonathan Stewart from four yards out (touchdown!), DeAngelo Williams from 16 yards out (touchdown!) and suddenly the Panthers led 31-17.

Check out these stats – Williams – 19 carries, 186 yards, 2 touchdowns; Stewart – 15 carries, 115 yards, 2 touchdowns.

All of those running stats and the success the team was having behind their offensive line overshadowed an extremely good night by Steve Smith who had 9 catches for 117 yards and a touchdown.

Jon Beason wrote on his blog late last week that the team would start faster.  They did.  Had it not been for a couple of bad passes from Delhomme that resulted in interceptions, this one wouldn’t have been this close.

Just how satisfying is this one?  Now the Carolina Panthers (YES, the Carolina Panthers) are at 10-3, lead the NFC South by one game and control their own destiny.  Three more wins and they are the NFC’s number one seed.

We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.  For now, we’ll celebrate a huge Monday night win over our arch rivals.

Here are some random thoughts from Monday’s victory:

  • My apologies to everyone who listened to last week’s podcast.  I had surmised that ESPN had moved Emmitt Smith away from the pregame coverage.  Wrong.  And I apologize profusely.
  • I said the same thing about Chris Berman who managed to give us a horrible Jimmy Stewart impression at halftime when referring to Jonathan Stewart.  It’s time to put this guy out to pasture.
  • An official’s whistle wiped out what would have been and should have been a fumble by Cadillac Williams in the second quarter.  The drive resulted in Tampa Bay’s first three points.
  • Anybody who didn’t believe in DeAngelo Williams before this season started, please move to the back of the line.
  • Tony Kornheiser again proving why he doesn’t belong in a booth helping call an NFL game – “He went to Jarrett.” (Making reference to jeweler Jared’s commercials when Jake threw to Dwayne Jarrett.)  Please!
  • It seemed that Carolina favored their right side Monday night when running the ball.  That would include a rookie the last time I checked.  So much for a wasted deal to get Jeff Otah.
  • Julius Peppers added another 1.5 sacks while Richard Marshall, Damion Lewis and Tyler Brayton each had one and Charles Johnson had half a sack.  Count ’em up.  That’s five in the game.
  • Jeff Garcia, the Panthers killer?  No longer!
  • Jon Gruden, upset?  You bet!
  • Warrick Dunn a 100-yard game?  Hardly!  Try 49.
  • Steve Smith now has 50 career TD’s and went over the 1000-yard mark for the fourth consecutive season.
  • The defense is still a bit inconsistent but looked much better against Tampa Bay than they did the last two weeks against Green Bay and Atlanta.
  • Should DeAngelo Williams have downed the ball before going in for that last touchdown?  It would have given the team the chance to run out the clock.  Who cares?  The game was out of reach after that at 38-23.
  • Shades of the past – the Carolina Panthers blocked an extra point.  Julius Peppers gets the credit!
  • While the announcers are not what we want to hear with the possible exception of Ron Jaworski, ESPN has improved in providing stats throughout the game.
  • Watching Steve Smith’s pregame warmups up close was absolutely amazing!