Sunday, October 12, 2003
Panthers 23, Colts 20 (OT)
INDIANAPOLIS -- Stephen Davis gave the Carolina Panthers a
running start Sunday, then DeShaun Foster took over.
The Panthers' tag-team running attack bowled over Indianapolis
defenders, broke tackles and eventually set up a 47-yard winning
field goal from John Kasay to keep the Panthers unbeaten with a
23-20 overtime win.
"Coach let me know Stephen was down and it was going to be on
my shoulders," Foster said. "I just tried to go out there and
make the most of my opportunity."
The Panthers (5-0) have now won seven straight dating to last
season and are one of three remaining unbeaten teams in the NFL.
The others are Kansas City (6-0) and Minnesota (5-0).
But this win was atypical for Carolina.
Just six days after Peyton Manning miraculously rallied the
Colts (5-1) from a 21-point deficit in the final four minutes at
Tampa Bay, he nearly did it again.
Manning led the Colts on an improbable 91-yard, game-tying drive
in the final three minutes against another one of the NFL's best
defenses -- but he never got a chance to win it.
To compound the Panthers' problems, Davis, the NFC's leading
rusher, watched most of the final 21 minutes with a bruised arm. He
finished with 76 yards rushing, his first sub-100-yard game since
joining the Panthers and a dramatic drop-off from last week's
Davis' absence forced Carolina to use Plan B -- making Foster the
"If you're going to be a running team like we envision
ourselves to be, you have to have that," coach John Fox said of
the Panthers' depth at running back.
Foster carried 16 times for 85 yards, his best day as a pro,
after missing all of his rookie season with a left knee injury.
For the Colts, it was that kind of day.
After dominating both offensively and defensively in the first
half, Indianapolis did little right in the second half.
The offense had just 66 yards in offense before their final
drive and turned the ball over twice.
The defense couldn't get off the field and eventually broke
Foster and Davis made the Colts pay.
"They have two pretty good running backs, but we didn't stop
them, that's all," Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney said.
The Panthers got back into the game after Manning was
intercepted and Davis broke four tackles en route to a 28-yard TD
run that made it 13-10 early in the third quarter.
On the Panthers' next possession, Nick Harper fell down and Jake
Delhomme hooked up with Steve Smith for a 52-yard TD pass to take
the lead. Smith had six catches for 103 yards.
Even when it appeared the Colts made a play, like when Chad
Bratzke snatched a Delhomme pass out of the air at Carolina 5 early
in the fourth quarter, it turned out wrong.
Fox challenged the call and won.
"In the replay, I thought that both players grabbed the ball
and never had control of it and the ball popped out," referee
Larry Nemmers said. "Therefore, it's an incomplete pass."
Colts coach Tony Dungy was puzzled by the change.
"I'm watching the same replay, trying to see what they saw to
overturn it," he said. "He said he didn't think Chad cever had
the ball. That's his opinion."
Carolina kept possession and chewed up another five minutes
before Manning & Co. got the ball back.
Then Manning was at his best.
He hooked up with four different receivers, including Marvin
Harrison who caught his 700th pass and became the NFL's fastest to
that mark Sunday, before spotting Reggie Wayne for a 25-yard TD
pass. That tied the score with 45 seconds left in regulation.
Manning finished 23 of 34 for 293 yards with one touchdown,
while Harrison caught eight passes for 119 yards and became the
Colts' all-time leader in receiving yards.
But Foster dominated the overtime.
He carried four times for 26 yards, including an 11-yard run on
third down and a 12-yard run to get the Panthers in position for
the field goal, Kasay's 13th in a row this season.
"The spark was in the second half, getting the turnover and
Stephen scoring the touchdown," Delhomme said. "Then we started
doing what we do best."
^Notes:@ Harrison now has 9,387 yards receiving, breaking Hall of
Famer Raymond Berry's franchise record. ... Jerry Rice held the
distinction of being the previous fastest to 700 catches, doing it
in 139 games. Harrison did it in 114. ... The Panthers won their
second straight game in October after losing eight straight. ...
Colts left tackle Tarik Glenn was inactive Sunday, ending his
consecutive game streak at 101. Indianapolis also played without
Edgerrin James. ... Carolina fell behind Sunday for the first time
since rallying for a win in Jacksonville in Week 1.