Final

Panthers 27

(1-0, 1-0 away)

Rams 13

(0-1, 0-1 home)

Coverage: FOX

1:00 PM ET, September 9, 2007

Edward Jones Dome, St. Louis, MO 

1 2 3 4 T
CAR 7 0 7 1327
STL 7 3 3 013

Top Performers

Passing: J. Delhomme (CAR) - 199 YDS, 3 TD

Rushing: D. Foster (CAR) - 17 CAR, 94 YDS

Receiving: S. Smith (CAR) - 7 REC, 118 YDS, 1 TD

Bulletin board material fires up Smith as Panthers roll

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Steve Smith conjured echoes of the 2003 playoffs with another long touchdown catch that propelled the Carolina Panthers and quieted the same St. Louis crowd.

Smith outsprinted Tye Hill on a 68-yard catch for the go-ahead play in Carolina's 27-13 opening victory on Sunday. As Smith eased into the end zone, Hill could only watch as he stumbled and then slid on his stomach for several yards.

Scouts Buzz
The Panthers held the explosive Rams offense to just 238 yards in total offense, but that wasn't the most surprising thing of Carolina's win over St. Louis. And the Panthers pushed around the undersized St. Louis defense and rolled up 186 yards rushing and 4.9 yards per carry. Still, that wasn't the most surprising thing of the day. Now, Jake Delhomme? That was surprising.

The often inconsistent Delhomme's performance was shocking. He completed nearly 67 percent of his passes, threw three TDs with no INTs and posted a quarterback rating of 125.7. Delhomme showed great poise in the pocket, timing with his receivers and stepped into his throws well. He was effective at all three levels of the Carolina air attack. -- Ken Moll, Scouts Inc.
Complete Week 1 Scouts Buzz

"Hey, I make plays," Smith said. "That's what I'm here to do."

The play was reminiscent of Smith's 69-yard shocker in the second overtime of the 2003 divisional playoff game between the teams that left Rams safety Jason Sehorn grasping only air and sent Carolina toward its first Super Bowl appearance.

The Rams' decision to give feature back Steven Jackson the preseason off backfired. Jackson lost two fumbles on consecutive carries in the third quarter, equaling his season total from last year.

"Tests come, tests go, I've just got to be able to withstand the storm," Jackson said. "You can't give a testimony without going through a test."

The first fumble negated a scoring opportunity, with Julius Peppers recovering at the Carolina 26. The fumble led to Smith's TD catch.

The Rams' defense saved Jackson on the second fumble, with hits by Brandon Chillar and Corey Chavous stripping DeShaun Foster at the St. Louis 3.

Jackson had 58 yards on 18 carries and one catch for 3 yards, his worst outing and first below 100 yards since he totaled 57 yards rushing and receiving last Nov. 19 in a 15-0 loss at Carolina. He was held below 100 yards in only one other game last year.

"No matter what, we don't let the ball get run on us," Panthers defensive end Mike Rucker said. "Once you make them one-dimensional, then they have to go up in the air."

St. Louis also lost seven-time Pro Bowl offensive tackle Orlando Pace, who injured his shoulder late in the first half and did not return. Pace missed half of last season with a torn triceps and coach Scott Linehan said an MRI exam was scheduled for Monday.

"It's a pretty bad sprain," Linehan said. "We'll know more tomorrow."

Smith had seven catches for 118 yards while schooling Hill, the Rams' first-round pick last year. During the buildup to the game, he accused Hill of bragging to Panthers backup running back DeAngelo Williams about "shutting me down."

The catch by the Panthers' three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver made it 14-13 midway through the third quarter.

"I'm not going to stoop to that level, all I'm going to do is congratulate my adversaries and then my teammates.

"You know, people who talk really don't have much to talk about."

Torry Holt caught a short touchdown pass and Dante Hall had an 84-yard kickoff return to set up one of two field goals by Jeff Wilkins for the Rams. St. Louis got no touchdowns from the first-string offense in the preseason and those woes carried over to the opener.

Jake Delhomme hit his first seven passes and finished 18-for-27 for 201 yards and three touchdowns and no interceptions for Carolina. He also hit Drew Carter for scores of 10 and 9 yards, the second TD for a 24-13 lead in the fourth quarter. The Panthers totaled 186 yards rushing, 94 by Foster and 62 by Williams, against a unit that ranked 31st in the NFL last year but added first-round pick Adam Carriker.

The Panthers overcame two lost fumbles, one each by Williams and Foster.

Each team scored on its opening possession. Delhomme was 6-for-6 for 35 yards and the Panthers also had a 29-yard pass interference call on a play involving Smith in a drive capped by Carter's 10-yard scoring catch.

Hall, who replaced the injured Drew Bennett as the Rams' third wide receiver, had two key catches on the Rams' opening possession capped by a 3-yard toss from Marc Bulger to Holt. Bulger, who signed a six-year, $60 million contract extension during training camp, had an off day, going 22-for-42 for 167 yards and an interception.

Game notes


Rams TE Randy McMichael, who had no catches in the preseason, was shut out for the first three quarters before getting two receptions for 24 yards in the final six minutes. ... Jason Baker averaged 52.7 yards on three punts for the Panthers, and Hall totaled 6 yards on two returns plus a fair catch. ... Linehan said Bennett, who signed a six-year free agent contract in the offseason, was held out for fear he'd aggravate a quadriceps injury. ... The Panthers ended a three-game losing streak in the opener. ... Smith has 19 career 100-yard receiving games.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
Carolina
St. Louis
1st Downs2116
3rd down efficiency
4-127-16
4th down efficiency
0-00-1
Total Yards387238
Yards per play6.03.7
Total Drives21
Passing201162
Comp-Att
18-2722-42
Yards per pass
7.43.9
Interceptions thrown
00
Sacks-Yards Lost
0-01-5
Rushing18676
Rushing Attempts
3821
Yards per rush
4.93.6
Penalties7-758-82
Turnovers22
Fumbles lost
22
Interceptions thrown
00
Possession34:0725:53

Passing Leaders

CARC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Delhomme18/272017.4300-0
STLC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Bulger22/421674.0101-5

Rushing Leaders

CARCARYDSAVGTDLG
Foster17945.5020
Williams15624.1012
STLCARYDSAVGTDLG
Jackson18583.2013
Bulger3186.0014

Receiving Leaders

CARRECYDSAVGTDLG
Smith711816.9168
King5357.0012
STLRECYDSAVGTDLG
Holt8739.1118
McMichael22412.0016

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERCARSTL
TD09:20Drew Carter 10 Yd Pass From Jake Delhomme (John Kasay Kick) 70
TD02:00Torry Holt 3 Yd Pass From Marc Bulger (Jeff Wilkins Kick) 77
SECOND QUARTERCARSTL
FG00:00Jeff Wilkins 42 Yd 710
THIRD QUARTERCARSTL
FG12:51Jeff Wilkins 28 Yd 713
TD08:33Steve Smith 68 Yd Pass From Jake Delhomme (John Kasay Kick) 1413
FOURTH QUARTERCARSTL
FG14:56John Kasay 34 Yd 1713
TD07:15Drew Carter 9 Yd Pass From Jake Delhomme (John Kasay Kick) 2413
FG01:04John Kasay 32 Yd 2713