NFL: Delhomme had worst day as a pro
CHARLOTTE ó Many of Jake Delhomme passes sailed over receivers’ heads. Others were one-hoppers. Still more were forced into double coverage.
And those were the throws that weren’t intercepted.
In the worst game of his career, Delhomme threw seven passes to his teammates, four to the other team and the rest fell to the turf in 27 attempts. He didn’t complete a signal pass in the second half and had a career-low passer rating of 12.3.
Delhomme managed 72 yards passing and the Panthers held the ball for less than 23 minutes.
Oh yeah, and Carolina won ó by double digits.
“I don’t think there’s anything ugly about a 17-6 win,” coach John Fox insisted Monday. “Would I have liked our offense to have played better? Yes, but I thought we ran the ball very effectively. I think DeAngelo Williams had probably one of his best games here as a Panther.”
It was no surprise that when Fox was asked about Delhomme, he instead tried to talk about Williams’ career-high 140-yard effort against the hapless Oakland Raiders.
Williams’ 69-yard touchdown run in the second quarter made it 14-0. The run game, combined with a suffocating defense allowed the Panthers to improve to 7-2 and stay atop the NFC South despite one of the worst performances in NFL history by a winning quarterback.
“I told a lot of defensive players, ‘Thanks a lot,”‘ Delhomme said. “I apologized. I put them in some bad situations.”
Just how bad was Delhomme? It was only the second time since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970 that a quarterback completed less than 30 percent of his passes and threw four interceptions and got a win, according to STATS LLC. In 1975, Cincinnati’s Ken Anderson went 4-for-19 with four interceptions in a 14-10 victory over the Raiders.
The awful performance was surprising, because Delhomme was having a solid season in his return from reconstructive surgery on his throwing elbow. While his statistics weren’t great, the former Pro Bowl selection had avoided major mistakes and led the Panthers to three comeback wins.
In Carolina’s last game on Oct. 26 before its bye, Delhomme threw for 248 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions and piloted the Panthers from a 17-3 deficit to beat Arizona.
But other than his 3-yard touchdown pass to Muhsin Muhammad on the first drive ó after the Raiders fumbled away the opening kickoff ó Delhomme was downright brutal.
Playing against a defense that came in ranked 28th out of 32 teams, Delhomme never got into a rhythm. While he was pressured more than he has most of the season, most of the mistakes were from his lack of accuracy.
Fox said there was nothing physically wrong with Delhomme, but things got so bad that late in the game the Panthers simply abandoned the passing game. Carolina’s final 10 plays were runs.
Delhomme went 0-for-9 in the second half with two interceptions, rivaling what was considered an unbreakable Carolina record of futility: Randy Fasani’s infamous 0.0 passer rating in a loss to Tampa Bay in 2002.
It almost made David Carr’s skittish performances last year look OK. Longtime fans might have even longed for Jeff Lewis or Chris Weinke. Vinny Testaverde doesn’t turn 45 until Thursday, right?
“It wasn’t just Jake,” Fox said.
Sure, Muhammad dropped a pass that should have ended Delhomme’s second-half shutout, and his protection wasn’t great. But Delhomme’s bad day made Steve Smith virtually invisible. Smith, who came in with five straight games of at least 96 yards receiving, had one catch for nine yards.
“The Raiders played good, but I could be a whole lot more sharp,” Delhomme said.
After returning to Charlotte at 2:45 a.m., Delhomme and his teammates were at Bank of America Stadium only briefly Monday and weren’t available to the media.
But Fox insisted the 33-year-old Delhomme won’t have trouble forgetting about Oakland.
“Jake handles adversity and prosperity probably better than any player I’ve been around,” Fox said. “He doesn’t need special counsel or anything.”
The good news for the Panthers is they overcame Delhomme’s first four-interception day in four seasons to stay a game ahead of Tampa Bay and Atlanta in the division. And Carolina faces another of the league’s worst teams, 0-9 Detroit, on Sunday at home.
But then the schedule turns brutal, when Delhomme likely won’t be able to be so bad and still win.
“He’s done it before,” Fox said when asked if Delhomme could bounce back. “I don’t anticipate any problems with him doing it again.”