Bills 13

(0-1, 0-1 away)

Panthers 14

(1-0, 1-0 home)

7:30 PM ET, August 12, 2006

Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC 

1 2 3 4 T
BUF 0 3 10 013
CAR 14 0 0 014

Keyshawn dazzles in Panthers' victory over Bills

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- It didn't take Keyshawn Johnson long to show the Carolina Panthers are no longer a one-dimensional passing team centering around Steve Smith.

Johnson, in his first game with Carolina, caught an 18-yard pass from Jake Delhomme on the first play from scrimmage, the beginning of a game-opening touchdown drive on the way to a 14-13 win over the Buffalo Bills on Saturday night.

Delhomme hit Johnson twice for 27 yards on the opening series, then threw a 14-yard scoring pass to Drew Carter as Smith watched from the sideline with a strained left hamstring.

"You want to get the ball in certain guys' hands to get them off early, so they can stay in tuned to the flow of the game," Johnson said. "It's important to get off to a good start. Jake's starting to learn a little more and I'm learning him more."

Delhomme, who completed five of six passes for 64 yards before giving way to Chris Weinke, showed the Panthers could move the ball without Smith.

That wasn't the case last season. Smith led the league with 103 catches for 1,563 yards and 12 touchdowns, but no other Panthers receiver caught more than 25 passes.

Carter had three catches for 20 yards and Keary Colbert caught two balls for 23 yards in place of Smith, who was injured on the first day of training camp.

"Naturally, adding Keyshawn is going to attract attention," fullback Brad Hoover said. "He's going to help us out a lot. But I think it's the confidence of the other guys and just how they've matured that's sort of helped out."

Carolina's reserves didn't fare as well, as Casey Cramer and Efrem Hill both lost fumbles, but the Panthers were able stop the Bills' reserves on fourth down in the final minute.

Buffalo's quarterback troubles appeared no closer to a resolution. Kelly Holcomb and J.P. Losman both struggled in Dick Jauron's first game as coach.

Holcomb, who got the start, completed two of four passes for 16 yards and one interception, a poorly thrown ball that Ken Lucas returned 23 yards for a touchdown late in the first quarter to give Carolina a 14-0 lead.

"I read the coverage wrong. I thought I had something I didn't have," Holcomb said. "I'm disappointed, I wanted to play better. It just didn't seem like I could get in a rhythm."

Holcomb was sacked by Julius Peppers on the opening drive and failed to lead the Bills to a first down in three series.

"Obviously Kelly had a rough night," Jauron said. "It was a sloppy start for us. The beginning of the game wasn't anything like we wanted to have happen."

Losman took over early in the second quarter and started with three straight incompletions. But he settled down and got into a rhythm in the second half against the Panthers' second and third strings. Losman was 15-of-24 for 144 yards for the Bills.

"We started off a little rusty, especially bringing in a new offense, new players, new coaches" Losman said. "I've always said the more I play, the more I'm in there, the more comfortable I'll get. As the game went on, I saw things better, but being in the offense for the first time, it takes time, it takes trust."

Running back Lionel Gates, who didn't play a down for the Bills last season, rushed for 31 yards on eight carries, including an acrobatic touchdown early in the third quarter.

Gates was sandwiched by Nate Salley and Keith Adams and did a complete 360 in the air, but came back down on his feet at the 2-yard line. He then broke Jermaine Hardy's tackle to get into the end zone.

Bills first-round pick Donte Whitner, who began practicing with the team Monday after an eight-day holdout, led the team in tackles. Matt Bowen, who started ahead of Whitner at strong safety, injured his right leg early in the second quarter. X-rays were negative.

Panthers first-round pick DeAngelo Williams had eight carries for 21 yards.

"I'm pleased with the way we came out on offense and defense and even in the kicking game," Panthers coach John Fox said. "After that we seemed to get a little sloppy and it leaves us with a lot of things to work on."

Game notes

Former Bills coach Marv Levy, back with the team as general manager, watched the game from the press box dressed in a coat and tie ... McGahee, looking to rebound from a subpar 2005 season, had 5 yards on three carries. ... Panthers linebacker Adam Seward, battling to make the team, blocked Brian Moorman's punt in the second quarter. ... Carolina reserve tackle Tony Brown had two sacks.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Scoring Summary

carTD10:03Drew Carter, 14 yd pass from Jake Delhomme (John Kasay kick is good)
Drive info: 7 plays, 67 yds, 3:20
carTD3:48Ken Lucas, 23 yd interception return (John Kasay kick is good)
Drive info: 1 plays, 23 yds, 4:48
bufFG0:01Rian Lindell 42 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 7 plays, 25 yds, 1:18
bufTD10:32Lionel Gates, 3 yd run (Rian Lindell kick is good)
Drive info: 6 plays, 47 yds, 2:48
bufFG3:35Rian Lindell 37 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 15 plays, 49 yds, 5:53