Carolina Panthers

Testaverde not pleased with his performance

Panthers running back DeShaun Foster drops a pass as Jaguars linebacker Daryl Smith applies defensive pressure.
Panthers running back DeShaun Foster drops a pass as Jaguars linebacker Daryl Smith applies defensive pressure.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Vinny Testaverde has experience, he has poise, he has plenty of arm, and all the knowledge they'd ever need.

If he had a little more touch, the Carolina Panthers would have been better off.

The elder quarterback struggled through his worst game as a Panther, passing for just 84 yards and throwing an interception that was returned for a touchdown in their 37-6 loss at Jacksonville. Testaverde finished the day 13-of-28 passing, and his rating of 38.4 was his worst of his tenure here.

"Yes, I'm disappointed," Testaverde said. "I feel like I missed some throws that I could have had -- the interception, for one. There were quite a few plays out there that we let get away today."

Testaverde's won the acclaim of his teammates in his short stint here, for several reasons.

There was the off-the-couch win in Arizona, the way he helped them break a five-game losing streak against San Francisco a week ago. They love the fact he asked the coaching staff to ditch the red jerseys in practice, putting the quarterbacks in line with the rest of the laborers.

But Sunday, he missed a number of open receivers, including several opportunities for scores, leaving the Panthers unable to match an efficient Jaguars attack.

In short, he looked more like a 44-year-old man they plucked out of unemployment than the calming influence they had grown so fond of.

Of course, the fact he's the third starter and fourth quarterback they've used this year speaks to their general struggle, as well.

"You have to have at least nine or 10 guys doing their jobs right, and we've had so much change in our backfield that it's showing," right tackle Jordan Gross said. "We're not in sync. We're not connecting on passes. The run game has been OK. Today wasn't very good because we had to throw all of the time. So it's tough."

Testaverde said the interception on the first play in the fourth quarter was simply a "bad throw." Instead of leading fullback Brad Hoover toward the sideline, the throw drifted inside and Jaguars linebacker Clint Ingram took it back 39 yards for an easy score.

But perhaps as bad was when he overthrew an open tight end Jeff King just before halftime, leaving them to settle for a field goal rather than a game-tying touchdown.

"That was one of the opportunities we had that we missed on," Testaverde said. "I put it a little high for him. I tried to keep the ball above his head so the defender couldn't make a play on it."

Panthers coach John Fox pulled Testaverde with nine minutes and 43 seconds left in the game, replacing him with rookie Matt Moore. He didn't fare much better, firing a series of fastballs that missed the plate on his first possession, finishing his sixth relief appearance 3-of-10 for 21 yards.

When asked if the Panthers' 5-8 record and next-to-no shot at the playoffs might cause him to bench Testaverde for Moore next week, Fox replied: "Let us look at the tape first."

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