Carolina (2-2) at Arizona (1-3)

Cloudy Currently: Tempe, AZ
Temp: 65° F
  • Game info: 4:15 pm EDT Sun Oct 9, 2005
  • TV: FOX
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Jake Delhomme has finally settled down. The Carolina Panthers hope their defense will follow.

Delhomme comes off his best game for the Panthers, who will try to improve their defensive play when they visit the Arizona Cardinals.

Delhomme passed for 206 yards and two touchdowns in a 32-29 win over the Green Bay Packers on Monday night. The performance showed that he could bounce back after throwing a costly interception in the final minute of Carolina’s 27-24 loss to the Miami Dolphins the previous week.

Panthers coach John Fox said he knew Delhomme was over it based on how well the quarterback prepared for the Packers. But there was still the chance that one bad play would have sent Delhomme into a spiral against Green Bay.

Delhomme said he wouldn’t let it happen.

“I don’t think anyone was as down and disappointed as I was,” said Delhomme, who threw one touchdown and three interceptions in his first two games. “Coach can say you never feel one play loses a game, and it probably doesn’t. But in my opinion, I felt I let us down last week.

“You just want to come back and play well for your team.”

Unlike their losses to the New Orleans Saints and Miami, the Panthers were sharp at the opening kickoff and pounced on the struggling Packers by forcing a Brett Favre fumble on the third play of the game. Carolina scored three plays later for a quick 7-0 lead.

Carolina, though, almost gave up a 19-point lead with Favre rallying the Packers down the stretch. The Panthers’ usually strong defense has allowed 24 points per game this season.

“There are definitely some areas we need to improve in, there were some things we could have played better,” Fox said.

Arizona got a strong performance from quarterback Josh McCown in a 31-14 win over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday in Mexico City.

The 26-year-old McCown set personal highs for attempts (46), completions (32) and yards passing (385), and showed poise and leadership that were missing when he came off the bench to go 10-for-23 for 97 yards after Kurt Warner strained his groin late in the first half of Arizona’s 37-12 loss at Seattle on Sept. 25.

McCown finished last year 6-7 as a starter despite being benched at midyear. It didn’t help his confidence when coach Dennis Green went after the 34-year-old Warner in the offseason and anointed him the starter.

“(Warner) jokes and says, ‘You’re not going to let me back on the field, are you?’ and we joke back and forth about that,” McCown said. “My goal is not to let him back on the field. But ultimately, in all honesty, my goal is that if he gets back on the field, he’s in a position to take us to the playoffs.”

Arizona kicker Neil Rackers has been perhaps the team’s most consistent player. No one has ever had 16 field goals in the first four games before Rackers accomplished it by connecting from 40, 45, 48, 23, 43 and 24 yards against San Francisco.

Rackers holds the franchise record for touchbacks with 23 in 2004, and is well on his way to eclipsing that. He drove seven unreturnable kickoffs into the end zone Sunday, the best NFL effort since Detroit’s Jason Hanson had seven touchbacks against Seattle on Oct. 17, 1993.

Cornerback Antrel Rolle, the Cardinals’ first-round draft pick this year, had arthroscopic surgery to repair his left knee Monday, and Green said he would miss the rest of the season.

Green didn’t expect Rolle, the No. 8 pick in April’s draft, to heal and complete rehabilitation in time to return this season. He was hurt during the loss to Seattle.

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