Panthers score final 18, edge Redskins 20-17
MIKE CRANSTON | 10/11/2009, 7:18 p.m.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Aided by a disputed call and Jake Delhomme's bold third-down run, the Carolina Panthers jump-started a sagging season at the expense of embattled Washington coach Jim Zorn. The Panthers scored the game's final 18 points Sunday, with Jonathan Stewart's 8-yard run with 9:21 left the go-ahead touchdown in a 20-17 win over the Redskins.
The TD was set up when the Panthers recovered a muffed punt at the Washington 12. The maligned Delhomme later ran a bootleg for a first down with just under 2 minutes left to give the Panthers (1-3) their first win.
The Redskins (2-3) and Zorn took another defeat against a previously winless team despite leading 17-2 early in the third quarter.
This defeat included a confusing call. Leading 17-12, the Redskins forced a punt with just over 10 minutes left. Carolina's Quinton Teal blocked Washington's Byron Westbrook into returner Antwaan Randle El, ruled a legal play. The ball bounced off Westbrook's foot and Carolina's Dante Wesley pounced on the ball at the Washington 12.
The officials initially were confused and awarded the ball to Washington. They then determined the ball hit Westbrook first and gave it to Carolina, a call upheld after Washington challenged.
Two plays later, Stewart's TD gave Carolina its first lead. Delhomme connected with Steve Smith on a 2-point conversion, making it 20-17.
Delhomme, who threw his eighth interception in a miserable season, later iced the win. He dragged cornerback DeAngelo Hall for the final yard needed for a first down. His chinstrap bunched up under his nose, Delhomme pumped both fists before kneeling down to run out the clock.
It made up for the earlier miscues.
With new offensive consultant Sherman Lewis watching from the coaching box, the Redskins' first two scoring drives totaled 14 yards.
Carolina entered the game with a minus-8 turnover margin. DeAngelo Williams fumbled on the first play from scrimmage and Albert Haynesworth recovered. Two plays later Jason Campbell's 10-yard pass to Clinton Portis made it 7-0.
It was exactly the start Carolina didn't need after getting booed off the field in its last home game, a 38-10 loss to Philadelphia in Week 1.
The Panthers fell behind 17-2 early in the third quarter when Delhomme threw a pass behind Muhsin Muhammad, who deflected the ball to Hall. He raced 45 yards to the Carolina 1, and Portis' 1-yard run was his first TD rushing this season.
Kenny Moore then returned the kickoff 55 yards, leading to Delhomme's 17-yard pass to Jeff King to make it 17-9. This time King's TD counted.
In the first half, Brad Hoover fumbled near the goal line and King recovered in the end zone. An obscure rule - enacted after Oakland intentionally fumbled the ball forward to win a game in 1978 - doesn't allow an offensive player other than the fumbler to recover in the end zone on fourth down, giving the Redskins the ball.
Three players later, Portis was dumped in the end zone by Julius Peppers and Thomas Davis for a safety, Carolina's only first-half points.
It was the kind of sloppiness befitting two struggling teams.
The Redskins shook up their offensive line, giving Mike Williams the start at right guard in his first game since the 2005 season, and leaving Chad Rinehart inactive. Then left tackle Chris Samuels went down with a stinger in the first quarter and was replaced by D'Anthony Batiste.
Campbell was sacked five times.