CHARLOTTE -- Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?
While the news that quarterback Jake Delhomme will need season-ending elbow surgery placed a black cloud over the proceedings, the Carolina Panthers were otherwise coming off their most emotional win of the season, their 16-13 decision at New Orleans.
In particular, coach John Fox was pleased with the play of his defense. Even though the Saints had 19- and 24-play drives, they only managed three points from those. The biggest stop was Julius Peppers' blocked field goal in the fourth quarter to end the longest drive, but there were several other moments of key stops, including their first two interceptions of the year by Richard Marshall and Chris Harris, and Ken Lucas' pass breakup that killed the Saints final drive.
"The one thing I will say about yesterday is our team played hard through some adversity, being put in some tough spots," Fox said. "I think that's probably the thing that is most telltale when you look at the tape. Again, there were things we didn't operate as well in all three phases -- offense defense and special teams. But I really felt our guys competed. I thought both teams played very hard in some tough conditions.
Fox said he was particularly encouraged by the play of rookie linebacker Jon Beason, who was solid in his first start in the middle after spending the first four games at weakside linebacker and missing the first eight days of training camp in a contract holdout.
"He's got a lot of football savvy," Fox said of Beason. "That's something we saw in the evaluation process. With a rookie coming in to learn one spot is difficult. To get thrown into a new spot can be even more difficult. But he's very instinctive, and I thought he operated and communicated well for his first outing."
• PLENTY OF PEP: Even though his sack count is still at zero, Peppers' blocked field goal (the sixth of his career) had the locker room buzzing.
"Pep is Pep. He's going to do his thing," teammate Mike Rucker said. "He can knock down balls and block kicks. You can have presence on the field without having 60 sacks. That's just one phase of the game. He used another part of his game using his hands and height and blocking stuff. It's tough. You talk about sacks and that's just one play.
"But you're talking about taking points off the board by blocking a kick. And if you ask someone do you want points off or do want sacks, you will take the points off."
• THANKS, SPOON: On its face, you'd think having the starting quarterback knocked out for a future opponent would be a good thing.
But the way the Arizona Cardinals are playing with Kurt Warner under center, that's not necessarily the case.
Warner led three scoring drives to send the Cards to a comeback win over St. Louis, his latest relief appearance. He came in this time after Matt Leinart suffered a broken collarbone at the hands of Rams linebacker (and former Panther) Will Witherspoon.
Leinart's been starting, but coach Ken Whisenhunt has been subbing Warner in liberally. And the numbers show that's a good idea. Warner has thrown four touchdowns, just one interception, and has a 102.3 rating. Leinart had two touchdowns and four picks, with a 61.9 rating.
They had just two quarterbacks on the roster prior to now, though they'll add one now, since Leinart's out indefinitely.