Sports

Panthers Moore promises improvement

Quarterback Matt Moore says he needs to trust himself more as he prepares to make his second consecutive start for the Carolina Panthers.

It will be an essential ingredient today at New England when he squares off against Patriots superstar Tom Brady - the first of four games in which Moore could be matched against an elite quarterback.

Carolina's final three games are against Minnesota with Brett Favre, the New York Giants with Eli Manning, and New Orleans with Drew Brees.

The status of regular Carolina starter Jake Delhomme for the rest of the season remains in question because of a broken finger on his right (throwing) hand. He did not practice Wednesday and still had the hand in a wrap with his index and middle fingers taped together.

Moore admits to struggling with hesitancy on at least one play during his first start of the season last weekend, a 16-6 victory against Tampa Bay. He said he regrets not passing on a third-down play from the Tampa Bay 7 midway through the fourth quarter.

"That's a decision I wish I would've made differently," he said.

The Panthers were facing third-and-4 and Moore had the freedom to call a run or a pass at the line of scrimmage.

The coaches wanted him to throw, especially since the Bucs were in a favorable coverage, but Moore chose to hand the ball to running back Jonathan Stewart.

The Panthers led by seven points and Moore wanted to make sure they at least came away with a field goal, which they did.

"I kind of just wanted to be really super-safe," he said. "I didn't take a chance there and I wish I would've. I wanted to guarantee points."

Stewart gained 2 yards on the play and the Panthers got a 23-yard field goal from John Kasay, but Moore said he realized immediately he should have been more aggressive.

"As soon as I didn't make that call, I'm walking off the field and I'm like, 'You've got to trust yourself,'" he said.

Once he arrived on the sideline, he said he received a similar message from quarterbacks coach Rip Scherer.

"I walked over there and he was looking at me, (like) 'What's going on? That's the look we wanted,'" Moore said. "I was like, 'I know, I just couldn't pull the trigger.'

"We had a good time with it. His biggest thing was I needed to trust myself, and he was absolutely right."

Moore added, with a laugh, "It was just me being weak, I guess."

He said if he had opted to pass, he likely would have thrown a fade pass, especially since the Bucs were playing single coverage on the outside receivers.

Receiver Muhsin Muhammad called the play "a live and learn kind of deal" for Moore, noting there was some wisdom in making sure the Panthers at least scored on a field goal to give them a two-possession lead.

"It wasn't a terribly bad decision," Muhammad said. "Quarterbacks typically want to throw the ball when they can. It's just one of those deals where he decided not to, but as he matures in the offense, I think he'll get better at reading the defenses and stuff."

Moore said it was a learning experience, and he vowed, "We'll be better (today)."

The victory against Tampa Bay raised Moore's record as a starter to 3-1, but the schedule ahead is difficult.

As for facing Brady, possibly followed by Favre, Manning and Brees, Moore said he will focus on his preparations.

"I feel I can't get star-struck, if you will," he said.

"They're good football players, but I've just got to worry about me, worry about the decisions I'm making, the offense and kind of go with it like that."

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