Panthers 27, Patriots 17

Click here for final game stats from NFL.com.

You don’t tug on Superman’s cape, and you don’t pull off Stephen Davis’ helmet.

In a game where both defenses rattled the quarterbacks, Davis came up big when he needed to, gaining only 77 yards on 26 carries, but scoring 3 big touchdowns, including one at the start of the 4th quarter that all but put the game out of reach for the defending champs.

Tom Brady was harassed all day, in no small part because the Panthers held the Pats to a mere 39 yards rushing. New England was forced to abandon the run late, and they got knocked off balance just enough to keep them from performing any late game heroics.

Big up the Panther D on this one. They made the plays they needed to. Big up special teams, too. John Kasay delivered twice on two long field goal attempts, and Chris Gamble’s big punt return set up a TD for Carolina.

This win was huge, not just for the Panthers, but for everyone in the AFC. The Colts and Steelers already have a one-game lead on the Pats now. Yes, New England will bounce back from this, but with games coming up against three division winners in the next three weeks (Pittsburgh, San Diego and Atlanta), it’s going to be a tough road for Bill Belichek’s team through the first half of the season. Of course, that’s what you get for winning two Super Bowls in a row…

Next week: the Panthers take a trip down to Miami to face the rejuvenated Dolphins. Two good defenses in that game. Should be interesting.

In the meantime, I’m headed over to my parents’ house for a hamburger. Good lookin’ out, Oh Mulligans. I’ll be back here later in the season…

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