The Panthers and 49ers were dead even for most of the game. The biggest lead was seven points by the 49ers and soon after the Panthers would score. It was 10-10 at the half, and a pair of field goals through the early fourth put the game at 13-13. After the 49ers’ tying drive, Panthers quarterback Matt Moore rushed a short pass to Jonathan Stewart and was intercepted and returned for a touchdown.
After the 49ers went up late in the fourth quarter and a failed fourth down attempt thanks to the unsteady hands of David Gettis, the Panthers decided to turn their season around. The defense held strong to get the ball back to the offense, and both Moore and Gettis made up for their earlier errors by connecting on a game tying 23-yard touchdown pass. Then, the defense finally made the 49ers pay for letting David Carr play, and Richard Marshall intercepted him with about a minute to go. Moore hit Brandon LaFell on a 35-yard pass which set up the game-winning field goal by John Kasay.
There is a lot to take out of this game. First, it was a late deficit last year against the Redskins that sparked a rejuvenated Panthers squad to turn their season around; has it happened again? Second, a second receiver finally is starting to come into the spotlight as Gettis had 125 yards receiving and two touchdowns. LaFell also had a great game with 91 yards receiving, but Gettis is using his gifted speed to get separation not only from defenders but from other Panthers receivers. It would be great to see LaFell step up with Gettis, but for now, this will do and the passing attack is finally starting to come to life.
Of course, the passing game would not have been so effective if not for a good game by Matt Moore. The running game could do nothing, so Moore decided to attack through the air, and it had great results. He threw for 308 yards, two touchdowns and an almost costly interception, but he did well. Five players had at least four receptions and two players not named Steve Smith went over or came close to 100 yards receiving.
Here’s an interesting fact, this was Moore’s third start of the season. He had two poor performances to start the season but came alive in this one. This almost sounds like last season where he was poor against the Bucs and Patriots then exploded against the Vikings. With any luck, the third time will be a charm once again, and the offense will do to the Rams next week what they did to the Giants last season.
On a side note, the New Orleans Saints lost to the Cleveland Browns and play the Steelers next week. It may interest you to know that last season the Saints lost their two previous games before losing to Carolina to end the year. The Panthers play the Saints in two weeks in Carolina.