GLENDALE, Ariz. — Carolina Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme got to celebrate his teams’ 34-21 win at Arizona while riding back from a nearby hospital Sunday. He went for a CT scan after a hit to the chest, but said he was cleared by doctors to fly home with the team.
“I’m good,” Delhomme said with a relieved smile, and that spoke to more than his physical condition.
The Panthers beleaguered quarterback got through a game without a turnover for the first time this season, and threw his first touchdown to wide receiver Steve Smith to boot.
Coupled with another stellar running day (270 yards) and a defense that finally forced some turnovers (six), the Panthers finally got the measure of revenge they’ve been looking for.
Several players admitted that even though it wasn’t a topic of conversation, the unspoken motivation was to pay back the Cardinals for last year’s 33-13 drilling in the playoffs.
“It wasn’t just the last six weeks,” running back DeAngelo Williams said. “You’re talking about a team that handled us in the Divisional Round of the playoffs. ...
“We played with a lot of passion today.”
None moreso than Delhomme, who came back for a series after taking a hit from Cardinals defensive tackle Darnell Dockett.
Delhomme started feeling a chill on the sidelines, and was immediately sore, causing some concern that there might be internal injuries. The fact that the Panthers were the team that sent Tampa Bay’s Chris Simms to the hospital with a ruptured spleen heightened that concern. But Delhomme was able to crack jokes afterward, laughing and saying “Oh yeah,” when asked if he’d be able to play next week in New Orleans.
Williams finished with 158 rushing yards, moving him past DeShaun Foster for the franchise’s all-time rushing lead.
The Panthers struggled to make it through the game intact, as they finished with no fullbacks. Brad Hoover left with an ankle sprain (X-rays were negative), and backup Troy Fiammetta left with a concussion. Since existing injuries left them with just two tight ends and three wideouts to start the game, it was a huge concern.