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Panthers knock out McNair, beat Ravens

Oct 15, 2006 - 8:14 PM BALTIMORE (Ticker) -- Jake Delhomme and Steve Smith picked on Samari Rolle.

Delhomme and Smith enjoyed huge games at the expense of Rolle as the Carolina Panthers posted a 23-21 victory over the Baltimore Ravens, who lost quarterback Steve McNair to a concussion.

Facing the league's second-ranked defense that features middle linebacker Ray Lewis and fellow Pro Bowlers Chris McAlister and Ed Reed in the secondary, the Panthers made their share of big plays.

It was Delhomme and Smith who were responsible for a majority of the highlights against the NFL's second-ranked defense.

Delhomme completed 24-of-39 passes for a career-high 365 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.

Smith, who was matched against Rolle at times, had eight catches for 189 yards and a touchdown.

"However Jake delivers the ball, it's my job to catch the ball," Smith said. "Whether Samari or McAlister, we sign up for it. I'm not big in stature, and I've got to bring something to the table that I feel other guys don't."

The biggest play for Delhomme and Smith came with 4:18 remaining. Smith beat Rolle to the middle of the field to catch a 72-yard TD pass and give the Panthers a 23-14 lead.

"It's a great play," Delhomme said. "It's a play we've run in minicamp. We ran it a ton today. We do it in a ton of formations. It's a play I feel comfortable running, no matter what the coverage."

"They are a very aggressive defense, and they do a great job," Panthers coach John Fox said. "We saw something that we were able to take a shot at, and Steve (Smith) did a great job."

On the previous play from scrimmage, Kyle Boller had thrown a 62-yard touchdown pass off a deflection to Mark Clayton to pull the Ravens with 16-14.

"When we came back and hit them for a touchdown with Steve (Smith), I said, 'OK it might be our day,'" said Panthers safety Mike Minter, who deflected the pass that went for Clayton's touchdown.

Drew Carter also beat Rolle for a 42-yard TD in the second quarter for the Panthers (4-2), who have won four straight following an 0-2 start.

Delhomme threw 11 passes Rolle's way and completed eight for 171 yards and two touchdowns. Rolle failed to meet with the media afterwards.

Carolina rolled up 414 total yards and 20 first downs.

"They didn't surprise us," Reed said. "They came out and did exactly what we expected. They executed their game plan, and we couldn't stop them."

In the fourth quarter, the teams combined for 24 points in the final 7:02.

The Ravens (4-2) suffered a blow late in the first quarter when McNair was left dazed after being sacked by end Mike Rucker and linebacker Chris Draft.

Boller, who was supplanted by McNair as the starter, came on to complete 17-of-31 passes for 226 yards with three touchdowns and an interception.

"I felt very comfortable out there, the game is much easier for me now," Boller said. "I felt like that in the preseason."

The third of Boller's touchdowns, a seven-yard connection to tight end Todd Heap with 2:02 remaining, pulled the Ravens within 23-21.

However, the Panthers were able to run out the clock. On 3rd-and-1 with just over a minute remaining, Delhomme found Carter for four yards to seal the win.

Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers registered two more sacks, raising his league-leading total to eight. The Pro Bowler also forced a fumble.

Baltimore's first touchdown of the game in the second quarter also came off a deflection. Wide receiver Derrick Mason had the ball carom of his hands and into waiting arms of Clayton for a 14-yard TD to give the Ravens a 7-3 lead with 8:33 left in the half.

"Sometimes they're going to go your way and sometimes they're not," Boller said. "Mark did a great job just following the ball as it was going through the air and coming down with it."

Delhomme answered by engineering an eight-play, 77-yard drive. He capped the march by finding Carter, who blew past Rolle down the left sideline, for a 42-yard score.

The big day by Delhomme was needed since DeShaun Foster was held to 58 yards rushing on 26 attempts.

John Kasay kicked a 31-yard field goal with four seconds left in the first half to give the Panthers a 13-7 lead. The veteran also converted from 21 yards in the first quarter and from 21 yards just past the midway point of the fourth.

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