Final

Panthers 37

(2-7, 2-3 away)

49ers 27

(1-8, 1-4 home)

4:15 PM ET, November 14, 2004

 

1 2 3 4 T
CAR 0 3 17 1737
SF 10 7 3 727

Panthers score 34 points after halftime

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Nobody is safe from the Carolina Panthers' voracious injury bug, not even kicker John Kasay.

Eric Allen's Analysis
Eric Allen Are the 49ers the worst team in the league?

Not only is this team the worst team in the league, but they are also the worst organization in the league. This organization used to be the darling of the league, and it's amazing how far they've fallen so quickly. They seem to be battling hard for the No. 1 pick in next season's draft.

Eric Allen played cornerback for 14 NFL seasons with the Eagles, Saints and Raiders. He's a regular contributor to Insider.

But thanks to punter Todd Sauerbrun and a defense that ate up the San Francisco 49ers' offense in the second half, Carolina finally doubled its win total.

Muhsin Muhammad caught three touchdown passes from Jake Delhomme in the second half, and Sauerbrun made four extra points and the go-ahead 34-yard field goal in a 37-27 victory over the hapless 49ers on Sunday.

With 11 players on injured reserve and twice that many hurting on the active roster, the beleaguered NFC champions weren't exactly shocked when Kasay limped to the bench with a strained calf in the third quarter.

But the rest of the Panthers (2-7) were willing to do anything to end a six-game losing streak -- and after Carolina's next touchdown, Sauerbrun volunteered.

"They thought about going for two, and I said, 'Come on, man, you know that I can kick extra points. Give me a break," said Sauerbrun, who hadn't kicked in a real game since college.

The Panthers needed every contribution they could get. Delhomme was 19-of-34 for 303 yards -- 123 on six passes to Muhammad -- as the Panthers scored 34 points after halftime despite no discernible rushing attack, thanks to injuries to several running backs.

"The injury bug has not only flown over Carolina, but he has made it his home this season," Muhammad said. "We've had to overcome a lot. We're putting together a team, and we just have to come up with ways to win."

The Panthers scored 17 points in the final 7:12 after Brandon Lloyd's 30-yard TD catch gave San Francisco a 27-20 lead early in the fourth quarter. Muhammad found alarmingly big holes in the Niners' befuddled secondary, which was missing its top four cornerbacks due to injuries.

"We had a pretty heart-to-heart talk at halftime, and our guys responded," coach John Fox said. "We had some guys step up. I told them that what I saw in the first half wasn't what I expected, and they responded."

The entire second half was yet another disaster for the 49ers (1-8), who lost their fourth straight to extend their worst start since 1979.

"We just totally self-destructed in the second half," coach Dennis Erickson said. "When we had a chance to win it, we didn't. Whether it's a penalty or a fumble or an interception, it's not just one thing. It's self-destruction in all areas."

Tim Rattay passed for 284 yards, but it was perhaps his worst game as a starter. He made a key fumble and threw four interceptions -- two that immediately were turned into points for the Panthers in the second half.

Cedrick Wilson had five catches for 101 yards for the 49ers, but the interceptions even made Carolina's weak secondary look good.

"Tim knows and I know that he made some pretty bad decisions, there's no question about that," Erickson said. "It was obvious."

The 49ers held the ball for nearly 23 minutes in the first half, taking a 17-3 lead on two short TD runs by Kevan Barlow. But Carolina scored 17 quick points in the third quarter, taking the lead on Muhammad's 40-yard TD catch.

Linebacker Mark Fields made consecutive big plays in the third quarter in what he called his best game since returning from cancer treatments. Fields returned a fumble for a score that was called back on replay review -- but on the next play, he intercepted Rattay's short pass and returned it to the 1.

Muhammad caught a 4-yard TD pass with 7:12 left to cap a drive rife with Niners defensive errors, and Rattay fumbled while being sacked moments later.

Mike Rucker recovered at the San Francisco 21, and Sauerbrun drilled his field goal with 4:25 left. After Brentson Buckner intercepted Rattay yet again, Muhammad got open for his third score.

"Special teams and defense gave us opportunities," Rattay said. "For whatever reason, we let them hang around, and then I made some turnovers. I've got to learn from it. I can't do that."

Game notes


Kasay kicked two early field goals. ... Barlow had just 47 yards on 21 carries, also drawing a 15-yard personal foul for throwing the ball at a Carolina player. Erickson berated Barlow on the sideline after the play. "You've got to go ask the coaches. I don't know," Barlow said when asked why he got just five carries after halftime. ... RB Brandon Bennett scored on a 1-yard dive after Fields' interception. It was Bennett's first carry with Carolina.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Scoring Summary

THIRD QUARTERCARSF
carTD9:52Brandon Bennett, 1 yd run
Drive info: 1 plays, 1 yds, 0:00
1217
car9:24
Drive info: 1 plays, 1 yds, 0:00
1317
FOURTH QUARTERCARSF
carTD2:53Touchdown
Drive info: 2 plays, 25 yds, 0:33
3627
car2:38
Drive info: 2 plays, 25 yds, 0:33
3727
carFG4:29Todd Sauerbrun 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 4 plays, 5 yds, 1:39
3027
THIRD QUARTERCARSF
sfFG1:10Todd Peterson 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 5 plays, 49 yds, 2:30
2020
carTD4:01Touchdown
Drive info: 6 plays, 77 yds, 3:52
1917
FIRST QUARTERCARSF
sfFG4:50Todd Peterson 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 8 plays, 44 yds, 3:39
010
THIRD QUARTERCARSF
car3:46
Drive info: 6 plays, 77 yds, 3:52
2017
FOURTH QUARTERCARSF
sfTD10:51Touchdown
Drive info: 7 plays, 76 yds, 3:48
2026
sf10:41
Drive info: 7 plays, 76 yds, 3:48
2027
carTD7:17Touchdown
Drive info: 8 plays, 69 yds, 3:18
2627
SECOND QUARTERCARSF
carFG1:23John Kasay 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 9 plays, 49 yds, 1:31
317
THIRD QUARTERCARSF
carFG10:06John Kasay 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 9 plays, 73 yds, 3:58
617
FOURTH QUARTERCARSF
car7:12
Drive info: 8 plays, 69 yds, 3:18
2727
FIRST QUARTERCARSF
sfTD10:41Kevan Barlow, 1 yd run
Drive info: 11 plays, 71 yds, 4:14
06
sf9:09
Drive info: 11 plays, 71 yds, 4:14
07
SECOND QUARTERCARSF
sfTD3:54Kevan Barlow, 3 yd run
Drive info: 13 plays, 74 yds, 7:19
016
sf3:00
Drive info: 13 plays, 74 yds, 7:19
017