Running around and through Kansas City’s soft defense, Foster carried 32 times for 174 yards, including a team-record 71-yard burst, in leading the defending NFC Champion Panthers to a 28-17 victory over the Chiefs on Sunday.
The total was 4 yards short of the team record held by Davis, who is out indefinitely after spraining his knee in practice last week.
“I had no idea that I was close to the record,” Foster said. “I just wanted to get 150 yards,” he said. “You always have to step up when somebody goes down.”
The Chiefs (0-2) were still within reach at 21-17 when Foster iced the game with his long gallop, which was followed immediately by a 3-yard TD run that gave the Panthers an 11-point lead with 10:35 left.
“It wasn’t that big,” Foster said. “I went to the left and made a little cut back right and it was open.”
The play unfolded like a nightmare for the Chiefs, who showed no signs of making any improvement to one of the NFL’s sorriest defenses.
“I couldn’t believe he was running down the field like that,” defensive end Eric Hicks said. “That stinks. We can’t let that happen. I can give you a million anecdotes and a million quips and quotes, but we’ve got to fix it.”
Outside linebacker Shawn Barber took the blame.
“I needed to fill a certain gap a little harder,” Barber said. “It was a play-action and he found the crease and he has the speed to go the distance. It was just a poorly executed play on my behalf.”
Carolina (1-1) came in missing their top two offensive threats—Davis and wide receiver Steve Smith—but had little trouble with the poor-tackling and mistake-prone defense of the defending AFC West champions.
Jake Delhomme threw three touchdown passes for the Panthers, including a 3-yard heave in the first quarter on the sort of play that normally gets a quarterback chewed-out, or even fined.
On second down from the 3, linebacker Monty Beisel came charging in on a blitz, got a hand on Delhomme’s jersey and spun him completely around. But as Delhomme was about to be slammed to the turf, he heaved a floater in the direction of the end zone. Tight end Kris Mangum, who was left uncovered, cradled the ball for a TD that made the crowd groan.
“I saw him there and he was wide open,” Delhomme said. “I tried to spin and throw it. I needed to get lucky and I did.”
The Panthers, who lost their opener to Green Bay, took a 14-10 lead with a time-consuming 80-yard drive in the third quarter. They converted four third downs on the drive, including Delhomme’s 9-yard touchdown pass to Keary Colbert, subbing for Smith.
A few minutes later, Eric Warfield intercepted Delhomme’s pass and sped 43 yards, stiff-arming the Carolina quarterback on the 12 to get into the end zone for a 17-14 lead that lasted only a few minutes.
Given good field position by a 15-yard celebration penalty against Kansas City, the Panthers marched 56 yards in eight plays and regained the lead on Delhomme’s 1-yard TD pass to Mike Seidman.
The Chiefs took a 3-0 lead on Lawrence Tynes’ 33-yard field goal on their first possession. They went up 10-7 in the second quarter when Priest Holmes capped a 69-yard drive with a 1-yard vault into the end zone for the only touchdown mustered by an offense that led the NFL in scoring each of the past two years.
Panthers star DT Kris Jenkins bruised his shoulder. … Walter Ehlers, a native of Manhattan, Kan., and the only living Congressional Medal of Honor winner from D-Day, received a standing ovation from the crowd of nearly 79,000 during pregame ceremonies. … Play was halted for several minutes in the second quarter when umpire Garth DeFelice got buried beneath the pile and shaken up. He stayed in the game.