Sports

Delhomme gets a another shot

Jake Delhomme received a reprieve from Carolina Panthers coach John Fox and will get a chance to face the team that sent his play spiraling.

After contemplating a quarterback change for nearly 48 hours, Fox announced Wednesday that he had decided to stick with Delhomme for Sunday's game at Arizona.

"I think he gives us the best chance to win," said Fox.

Delhomme welcomed the news, but showed signs of a battered self-esteem, which Fox appears to be monitoring closely. The two talked multiple times before the decision was made, after which Delhomme said he understood his coach's need to ponder whether Matt Moore or A.J. Feeley might be a better option.

"Let's be real here, how could I blame him?" Delhomme said of Fox. "But I was hoping it would be me. There's only one way. I'm going down swinging. I don't know any other way to put it."

Delhomme's performance has been in steady decline since the Panthers suffered a 33-13 home playoff loss to the Cardinals on Jan. 10. Delhomme threw five interceptions and fumbled once in the defeat, which fell on his 34th birthday.

His difficulties have continued this season as Carolina has started 2-4, which followed a 12-4 regular season last year.

Delhomme leads the NFL with 13 interceptions, one more than all of last season, and has passed for four touchdowns, none to his wide receivers.

Seven of his interceptions have led to touchdowns for the opposition, including two in last week's 20-9 loss to Buffalo.

Running back DeAngelo Williams said it's good that the Panthers have a chance to play the Cardinals again and that a victory could do wonders for getting the team back on track.

"That's where we left off last year ... and we started off this year kind of where we left off last year," said Williams. "To come back, to beat them and to re-write something that hasn't been re-written in a long time would be awesome."

Asked if the opportunity was especially critical for Delhomme, Williams said: "It's very important for all of us."

Fox said his evaluation of the Panthers' passing game, which ranks 23rd in the NFL, revealed problems beyond Delhomme's play.

Tight end Jeff King said the other offensive players haven't helped Delhomme enough.

"Not all the interceptions are his fault," said King. "We all collectively have to pick up our games, as does he."

If Delhomme falters again against Arizona, Fox could opt to bench him during the game in favor of Moore.

"I was told to always be ready, be ready to go," said Moore. "That's kind of been my role since I've been on this team, so I'm guessing that's how it's going to go."

Carolina's passing problems are highlighted not just by turnovers, but by difficulty in maximizing the immense skills of Pro Bowl wide receiver Steve Smith, who has been held without a touchdown and is tied for 33rd in the NFL in receptions with 27.

Smith had a business-like response to the news that Delhomme would continue to be the quarterback trying to deliver him the ball.

"I just work here," said Smith. "If Jake's the guy, Jake's the guy. It's not my call.

"I can't worry about what's going on in somebody else's kitchen because I've got grilled cheese burning on the stove myself."

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