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Monday, September 19, 2005 

Gone in Carolina

In hindsight, it's easy to understand why the Panthers defeated the Patriots yesterday, 27-17. New England has not been sharp in either of its first two games, but Carolina is a tougher opponent than Oakland. However, even with the 12 penalities and the erratic performance of Tom Brady, the Patriots still had the ball, down by only 3, late in the third quarter. Brady's subsequent fumble deep in his own territory ended their chances.

The defense played well again forcing Jake Delhomme into a subpar performance, but the offense and special teams giving Carolina very good field position. In the battle of big plays, the Patriots had two - Troy Brown's long run after a short pass from Brady, and Mike Vrabel's interception return for a TD - while the Panthers had three: 1) Ricky Proehl's long catch and run, 2) Chris Gamble's punt return, and 3) Forcing Brady's fumble. Those big plays translated into a 21-14 Carolina advantage, which was essentially the difference in the game.

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