The Bills’ last chance ended when Chris Gamble intercepted J.P. Losman’s throw to Roscoe Parrish in the left flat in the final minute. Parrish appeared to slip on the play, and Losman’s pass was underthrown.
Delhomme finished 20-of-27 for 191 yards, bouncing back after he had thrown four interceptions in his previous two games.
DeShaun Foster had 23 carries for a season-high 77 yards, helping the Panthers (8-3) erase the dreadful memories of last weekend’s 13-3 loss at Chicago.
Rian Lindell accounted for all of Buffalo’s scoring, hitting all three field goals, including a 45-yarder.
Losman, making his second straight start, went 16-of-29 for a career-high 197 yards. His problem was an inability to find the end zone as the Bills (4-7) lost for the fourth time in five games.
Delhomme had to remain patient as the Bills contained his favorite target, Smith. The NFL’s leading receiver was limited to three catches for 55 yards.
Down 9-6 after Lindell hit a 33-yard field goal with 10 minutes left, Delhomme took over at the Carolina 32. He marched the Panthers on a 14-play, 68-yard drive, capped with the third-down pass over the middle to Gaines, who had a step on Coy Wire.
It was the ninth time in Delhomme’s career and first this season he’s engineered a fourth-quarter comeback.
John Kasay rounded out Carolina’s scoring, hitting two of three field goal attempts. He missed a 45-yarder wide right in the third quarter in relatively calm conditions.
Buffalo took a 6-3 lead on Lindell’s 45-yarder as time ran out in the first half.
The Panthers opened the scoring on Kasay’s 25-yard field goal after a 16-play, 74-yard drive which ate up 11 minutes but stalled at the Buffalo 8.
Buffalo later responded with a 13-play, 76-yard drive ending with Lindell’s 31-yard field goal.
The Bills were without three starters: cornerback Terrence McGee (hamstring), defensive tackle Sam Adams (ankle) and tight end Mark Campbell (hamstring). Buffalo then lost starting left guard Mike Williams, who hurt his back in the second quarter.
Bills safety Lawyer Milloy also limped off the field late in the game.
The Panthers were without Pro Bowl linebacker and leading tackler Dan Morgan, who hurt his ankle last weekend.