With the Panthers trailing by only six points in the fourth quarter and hoping to put together a drive that would deliver a late lead, quarterback Jake Delhomme threw a ball that landed in the arms of Cowboys cornerback Terrence Newman, whose body language screamed out, “Holy crap, the guy threw the ball right to me.”
Newman then raced 27 yards to the end zone, and the ensuing two-point conversion put the Cowboys up by 14 points.
So what happened on the play? Receiver Steve Smith admitted after the game that he ran the wrong route.
And that he did it intentionally.
“Jake was expecting me to cross his face,” Smith said, per Steve Reed of CarolinaGrowl.com. “I should have
crossed his face and I didn’t cross his face. I put Jake in a bad
situation. I second-guessed my route and I shouldn’t have. The bottom
line is that I screwed Jake.”
The candor is impressive, but the decision to freelance isn’t.
“Jake, for many years, has expected me to cross a guy’s face,” Smith added. “Nine out
of ten times I cross his face. This is the one time I didn’t and I
screwed us. [Newman] was playing a cover two technique. He was taking
the inside away. He did a good job. Terence Newman did a good job all
day. They had a very good game plan. They stuck to it. On that play I
was impatient and it didn’t work. It was not up to the caliber it
should have been and what’s expected of me and what I’m used to doing.”
Regardless, the numbers show that Delhomme committed three more turnovers, and despite having nine in three games, the Panthers surely will remain committed to Delhomme.
Primarily because they have no other choice.
And so the team that won 12 and lost only four in the 2008 regular season has now lost four in a row, and they have a bye week to ponder how quickly and dramatically they have fallen.