CHARLOTTE -- Carolina Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme was the one with his hand up. But according to Panthers coach John Fox, many more had their hands in it.
Fox defended his quarterback after one of his worst individual days ever, but one they were able to withstand in a 17-6 win at Oakland. Delhomme was apologizing to teammates after the win, but Fox said he wasn't the only one that should have been talking or taking the blame.
"There's no question that we could have played better in the pass game, but it wasn't just Jake," Fox said Monday. "There's a couple of drops, a couple of better routes (that could have been run), a couple of better protections. Again, Jake's a stand-up guy, and he's going to take responsibility. His teammates appreciate that about him. I know that I do as a head coach.
"But it's a scenario that we've got to work on. These games all have different personalities. We had a pretty good idea what kind of game that was going to be. They were going to challenge us to throw. We've had games like that in the past here, and we've gotten better for it."
Delhomme was awful Sunday, a 7-for-27, 72-yard stinkbomb that included four interceptions and one touchdown. He didn't complete a pass in the second half.
His 12.3 rating was his lowest ever, and it was just his third four-pick game ever. The last was a 30-8 loss at Philadelphia in 2004, and the other was in 1999, when he was with New Orleans and got caught by the Panthers on a day they needed to run up the score in a 45-13 win.
He was just the second quarterback since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger to complete fewer than 30 percent of his passes and log four interceptions and still win a game. Cincinnati's Ken Anderson was 4-for-19, with four interceptions in a 14-10 win -- also against Oakland -- on Oct. 19, 1975.
Fox said there was nothing physically wrong with his quarterback and got his back up a little when pressed on Delhomme's struggles.
"I already said what I thought it was," Fox said. "I thought it was a real good day in our run game, and a not-so-good day in our pass game, and it's not just Jake."
The Panthers coach wasn't the least bit interested in dissecting the cadaver that Delhomme put on the slab. He was simply happy to be sitting at 7-2 and first in the NFC South, rather than the alternative.
He pointed to the improvements the Panthers made defensively, limiting the Raiders to a pair of field goals despite the four turnovers. He also mentioned the 140-yard rushing day turned in by DeAngelo Williams, which included a 69-yard touchdown run they needed desperately.
The old defensive coordinator laughed when asked about the relative attractiveness of the win.
"Being of a defensive background, I don't think there's anything ugly about a 17-6 win," Fox said. "Again, would I have liked our offense to play better? Yes. But I thought we ran the ball very effectively. DeAngelo Williams had arguably one of his best games as a Panther. He made a lot of runs on his own, a lot of runs where he made people miss. To rush for that many yards -- I'm still happy with it.
"It was an outstanding job by our special teams and our defense, and when you win two out of three (phases), you usually win the game -- and we did."
Fox and Delhomme's defenders can lean on the fact it was a win, which moved him to 45-29 all-time as a starter. Including the playoffs, his 50-31 record puts him at a 61.7 winning percentage. Given the preferred mode of Fox, they'll take that.
The blowups happen with Delhomme from time to time, but the Raiders had a hand in it as well. Though they came into the game ranked 28th in the league in total defense, the Raiders were playing with an edge -- at least on the stop-side. Playing the week after being embarrassed by Atlanta and the surprise release of cornerback DeAngelo Hall, Oakland was out to prove they weren't the dysfunctional mess the world perceives them to be. At least on that side of the ball, they proved some ability.
"I don't want to take anything away from them," Fox said. "I thought they covered us down pretty good. They made it tough for us to run, but we were still able to run, so one of the real bright spots was that. Most of that was against eight-man fronts -- and aggressive eight-man fronts. We just needed to be able to take more advantage of it in the pass game, and we weren't able to -- and it was a combination of both them and us."
Fox sloughed off the notion that he spent any extra time talking to his emotional quarterback, who wears his heart on his sleeve on game days and clearly was dismayed at his play.
"He's done it before, and I don't anticipate any problems him doing it again. Those happen," Fox said. "Jake handles adversity and prosperity probably as well as any player I've ever been around. Of course, we talk to him. I talk to just about everybody. But he doesn't need special counseling or anything."