Run, Carolina, run! The Carolina Panthers’ dynamic duo of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart entertained fans with a record-setting day on the ground for Carolina. The Panthers needed all those yards to beat the NFL's only winless team.
Stewart rushed for a career-high 130 yards and a touchdown, while Williams added 120 yards and two more scores, and Panthers defeated the Detroit Lions 31-22 on Sunday.
The 8-2 Panthers won their fourth straight game by setting a team record with 264 yards rushing in the first time two of their backs rushed for over 100 yards in the same game.
Carolina surpassed last year's win total and stayed atop the NFC South, but it was a second straight sluggish performance that kept the Lions in the game all day.
Daunte Culpepper got the 0-10 Lions within 24-22 on his 1-yard plunge with 6:05 left. Culpepper called his own number again on the 2-point conversion try, but was stopped short of the goal line as Jon Beason grabbed his facemask.
What? No penalty was called, and the Lions quickly folded to keep their chances of becoming the league's first winless team over 16 games.
Culpepper, returning to the scene of his knee injury, was intercepted by Charles Godfrey on Detroit's next possession and Williams' 4-yard touchdown run came on the next play. Julius Peppers then sacked Culpepper and forced a fumble that was recovered by Carolina, providing the Lions with their 17th loss in 18 games.
Rookie Kevin Smith rushed for a career high 112 yards, while Culpepper threw for 207 yards and a touchdown, but Detroit couldn't overcome a weak run defense.
Williams and Stewart often weren't touched until they got into the secondary. Williams had a 56-yard touchdown run and Stewart a 22-yard touchdown as Carolina recovered from a 10-0 deficit to improve to 6-0 at home.
Jake Delhomme wasn't as bad as he was last week when he went 7-for-27 with four interceptions and a 12.3 passer rating against Oakland, but he threw for only 98 yards. Nevertheless, Delhomme was more than happy to hand off to his dominant backs.
Culpepper, while at times throwing to the wrong spot and struggling with communication with his receivers, gave the Lions hope of ending their winless streak early.
The Panthers were blowing pass coverages, missing tackles, and allowing Smith to run all over as Detroit took a 10-0 lead, which was the first time the Lions scored first in a game all season. Calvin Johnson got loose on Culpepper's 29-yard touchdown pass on the opening possession.
The Panthers didn't pick up a first down until early in the second quarter, but then Carolina finally woke up. The Lions were within 21-16 at halftime, with Jason Hanson kicking three field goals, including a wind-aided 56-yarder that matched his career long and team record he set 13 years ago.
Source: The Charlotte Observer