Rams 0

(4-6, 2-4 away)

Panthers 15

(6-4, 4-2 home)

Coverage: FOX

1:00 PM ET, November 19, 2006

Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC 

1 2 3 4 T
STL 0 0 0 00
CAR 0 10 3 215

Top Performers

Passing: J. Delhomme (CAR) - 191 YDS, 1 TD, 1 INT

Rushing: D. Williams (CAR) - 20 CAR, 114 YDS

Receiving: S. Smith Sr. (CAR) - 4 REC, 90 YDS, 1 TD

Panthers sack Bulger, hand Rams fifth straight defeat

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Who knew that weekly steak dinners would be the cure to Carolina's defensive struggles?

The Panthers sacked Marc Bulger seven times and shut out St. Louis 15-0 on Sunday, the fifth straight loss for the Rams. Jake Delhomme threw a 62-yard touchdown pass to Steve Smith, and the Panthers' dominating defense made it stand up.

Scouts Inc.'s take ...
The Rams were unable to stop a five-game slide this week in Carolina. The Panthers were successful in getting good matchups outside, especially wide receiver Steve Smith (above) against Rams rookie cornerback Tye Hill. Smith was able to use his outstanding speed, skill and quickness to get open against the less-talented rookie. The Panthers controlled the clock by taking advantage of the Rams' inability to stop the run.

Carolina RBs DeAngelo Williams and DeShaun Foster (before he left the game with an elbow injury) hurt the Rams all day. St. Louis RB Steven Jackson was not used effectively in the passing or running game and quarterback Marc Bulger was unable to get the passing game going due to ineffective protection up front by the offensive line.

The Panthers came into the season feeling they had the best defense in the league. But Carolina struggled with injuries and chemistry. The problems magnified when Dallas scored 25 fourth-quarter points in a game three weeks ago.

Safety Mike Minter called a players-only meeting a few days later, suggesting all defensive players meet for dinner each Thursday night.

Since then the Panthers have allowed 10 points in two games. The Rams, devastated by the loss of Pro Bowl tackle Orlando Pace in last week's game, were shut out for the first time since 1998.

Mike Rucker had two sacks, including one for a safety with 2:24 left, while former Ram Damione Lewis and Chris Draft each had 1½ sacks for Carolina, which tied a team record for sacks in a game.

"I don't know if [the dinners] are the magic formula, but they are a piece of the puzzle," Rucker said. "It's harder for me to shut down on you if I know you personally. I think it makes me play harder if I know you personally."

Rookie DeAngelo Williams took over for injured running back DeShaun Foster and rushed for 114 yards on 20 carries as the Panthers (6-4) won their second straight game and moved into a first-place tie with New Orleans in the NFC South.

The Panthers, coming in ranked 28th in the league in rushing, had a team-record 244 yards on the ground against the Rams, who have allowed seven different running back to rush for over 100 yards.

"Any back in the country that was in the backfield could have been in the backfield for us today would have rushed for 100 yards," Williams said. "They were just doing that good of a job up front."

Bulger was 19-of-34 for 142 yards and two interceptions, while the Rams (4-6) dropped five passes -- three by Isaac Bruce, who left in the fourth quarter with blurry vision.

On 12 possessions, the Rams had nine punts, an interception, a fumble and a safety as they finished with 111 yards. All from a team that was averaging more than 22 points a game.

"For us to come in and put up a dismal performance like that is very humbling," said running back Steven Jackson, who was held to 27 yards on seven carries.

The Rams, forced to shuffle their offensive line after losing Pace, had no answer to the Panthers' pass rush. Carolina, sending six or seven defenders on nearly every play, sacked Bulger five times in the first half.

Carolina's banged up secondary was never threatened despite being without starting cornerback Ken Lucas (thigh). Rookie Richard Marshall started opposite Chris Gamble.

Christian Morton, signed off the practice squad less than a month ago, intercepted Bulger deep in Rams' territory late in the third quarter. It led to John Kasay's 34-yard field goal that put the Panthers head 13-0 heading into the fourth quarter.

With just over five minutes left in the fourth quarter, Dion Byrum, signed on Thursday off Tampa Bay's practice squad, ripped the ball away from Torry Holt to end the Rams chances.

"We held a team like that, with all their weapons, to 15 points. You would think you could win a game, but we came out and pitched a goose egg," Holt said.

The Panthers led 3-0 late in the second quarter when Delhomme lofted a deep pass down the left sideline. Smith extended his arm to create some space against Oshiomogho Atogwe, caught the ball at the 15, and beat Corey Chavous to the end zone for a 62-yard touchdown.

Smith appeared to injure his left shoulder early in the third quarter. After being helped off the field, Smith vomited in the trash can -- the second straight week he was sick during a game. Smith returned on the next series, had four catches for 90 yards.

The Panthers, who came in averaging 92.3 yards rushing per game, dominated despite losing Foster in the second quarter to an elbow injury. X-rays were negative but Foster, who had nine carries for 63 yards, did not return.

Delhomme was 13-of-25 for 191 yards and an interception. He was sacked twice by La'Roi Glover.

Game notes

Keyshawn Johnson had eventful back-to-back plays in the fourth quarter. After catching a pass over the middle, Johnson tried to stiff arm rookie cornerback Tye Hill, but ripped off his helmet and was called for a 15-yard face mask penalty. On the next play the Panthers tried a trick play, but Johnson's pass for Smith was badly underthrown and intercepted -- by Hill. ... The Rams' last shutout loss was 14-0 Miami in Oct. 1998. ... The Rams wore white pants for the first time since they moved from Los Angeles.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

1st Downs820
Passing 1st downs
Rushing 1st downs
1st downs from penalties
3rd down efficiency
4th down efficiency
Total Plays4972
Total Yards111411
Yards per play2.35.7
Total Drives1114
Yards per pass
Interceptions thrown
Sacks-Yards Lost
Rushing Attempts
Yards per rush
Red Zone (Made-Att)0-00-2
Fumbles lost
Interceptions thrown
Defensive / Special Teams TDs00

Passing Leaders


Rushing Leaders


Receiving Leaders

Smith Sr.49022.5162

Scoring Summary

carFG4:09John Kasay 40 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 10 plays, 66 yds, 5:28
carTD1:41Steve Smith Sr., 62 yd pass from Jake Delhomme (John Kasay kick is good)
Drive info: 2 plays, 69 yds, 0:15
carFG1:04John Kasay 34 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 4 plays, -9 yds, 2:07
Drive info: 2 plays, -2 yds, 0:24