Bronco Busters: Carolina Purr-Fect at Home

Richie FenderCorrespondent IDecember 15, 2008

The Big Cat was on hand to watch his team inch closer to a division title and the No. 1 seed in the NFC. He was treated to a spectacular show as the Panthers finished perfect at home.

FUN FACT: The Panthers finished 8-0 at home for the first time since 1996.

It was only last week when Carolina Panthers' owner Jerry Richardson found out he needed a heart transplant. Head coach John Fox asked his beloved boss what the players could do to help. Richardson's simple answer, "They're already doing it."

John Fox relayed Jerry's message to his players and they continued their hard work against the AFC West Division leading, Denver Broncos. Carolina rode the Broncos to a 30-10 win to honor their much loved owner.

Carolina defensive end Julius Peppers responded, "That's what we want to do for him, keep winning games and try to bring him something special."

Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams commented, "I was one of the people on the sidelines clapping because I didn't know he was here. I saw his blanket kind of falling down, and his wife pulled it up. That was kind of cute. To see him up there, after what he's been through, it just shows his dedication to the team. He's not only an owner, he's a friend and he's family."

FUN FACT: Rookie running back Jonathan Stewart scored his ninth rushing touchdown of the season, setting a franchise record.

Muhsin Muhammad said, "I thought it was awesome. Just to see him up there in his box and know that he was here to enjoy another undefeated season. My first year as a rookie we went undefeated at home in '96 and you know that was a special year, went to the NFC championship game. Now to be able to have him watching again and here to see that undefeated season at home again, that's a real special moment."

In the first quarter, Denver drew first blood with a seven-yard reception to P.J. Pope from Jay Cutler. Carolina struck right back with a 15-yard pass hauled in to Steve Smith to even the score.  After the two touchdowns, both Denver and Carolina scored a field goal a piece to tie the quarter 10-10.

This would be the only points Denver was allowed to score for the rest of the game.

The second quarter was all Panthers with a two-yard rushing TD from Jonathan Stewart and a 44-yard field goal from the sure shot, John Kasay.

There was more of the same from Carolina in the third quarter. DeAngelo Williams had a beautiful 56-yard touchdown run.

John Kasay had the only score of the fourth quarter with a locked in 42-yard field goal to end the game score 30-10.

FUN FACT: Carolina improved to 4-0 vs. AFC teams this season.

Denver quarterback Jay Cutler commented on their loss, "They pressured us a little bit. We weren't able to run the ball as well as we wanted to."

FUN FACT: The Broncos lost for the first time this season against the NFC and first time vs. the Panthers in three all-time meetings.

FUN FACT: Jay Cutler only had seven sacks all season and received an additional two from the Carolina Defense.

Coach John Fox responded to the win, “I think it’s great. It’s something that we addressed in the offseason. We have a unique bunch. It was something they put on their list of goals and we were able to accomplish it. I think it was done one other time here by this organization. It’s not easy to do anywhere, and so those guys ought to be commended.”

Carolina quarterback Jake Delhomme commented on the game, “It’s something we hadn’t seen on film from them. We hadn’t prepared for it. But I thought (offensive coordinator) Jeff Davidson and (passing game coordinator) Mike McCoy did a great job and we went hurry, into our red ball mode. We liked our match-up when we went into that.

"To me it goes back to coaching. Don’t panic. Base rules, this is where we need to go, and it worked. You want to protect your home turf. In the past we’ve done OK at home. We played pretty good on the road. That is a special feeling and I think it comes back to confidence. I think it snowballs. We’ve been down and come back. Our guys are very confident.”

Recently extended corner back Chris Gamble said, "We wanted to cover better and they were throwing a lot of short routes and stuff like that. We wanted some tight coverage on their receivers and let the D-line do their job and they did that.”

Like Jack and the Beanstalk, the Panthers will go prowling in New York looking for Giants and trying to snatch that No. 1 NFC seed. Next Sunday night's game is huge as the winner will have home field advantage in the NFC Playoffs.

Where will the road to the Super Bowl go through? New York or Charlotte?