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Minutes: Pass time for Moore, Smith

Posted Dec 21, 2009

Moore
Matt Moore was just one yard shy of 300 on Sunday. (PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS)


CHARLOTTE -- Brett Favre has everything on Matt Moore. The better career résumé, the better season, the better record.

"If I can have half the success Favre has had, that's a pretty successful career," Moore acknowledged. "It's so cool to watch him and play against him."

But Sunday night, Moore was the better quarterback, not only by the scoreboard, but by every basic metric of evaluating passers. Better in yardage (299 to 224). Better in yards per attempt (9.1 to 8.3). Better in touchdown-to-interception ratio (3-0 to 0-1). Better in avoiding sacks (two out of 35 pass plays to four in 31). Better in rating (123.2 to 73.7).

Of Moore's six career starts, this one was his best, not just by his numbers, but other factors like the quality of the opposition, the issues that dogged the Panthers heading into the game and a first-quarter injury to running back DeAngelo Williams.

"The more he's on the field, the more experience he's getting, the better he's playing, and it just breeds confidence for him," fullback Brad Hoover. "That's just the maturation process of how it's come along, and he'll get another shot next week -- and hopefully it keeps growing."

Just like his passer rating, which in the last three weeks checks in at 107.7.

"He's like that gunslinger; he's going to get in and throw it around," tight end Jeff King said.

Never was that more apparent than on a three-play sequence that bracketed the end of the third quarter, when Moore found Steve Smith for a 26-yard touchdown pass, watched it get erased by a holding penalty, took a sack on the next snap and finally, on third-and-26, turn to Smith again for a 42-yard score that gave Carolina the lead for good.

"It was one of those deals (where we said), 'If we get this look, we want to throw it up to him and let him make a play.' And really, that's what he did," Moore said. "You can throw that ball a hundred times and it's picked, incomplete, touchdown, who knows what's going to happen. But when (No.) 89 is running underneath it, good things are going to happen."

"It was a well-thrown ball," Smith said.

From there, Moore's confidence soared. He completed five of his seven fourth-quarter passes for 160 yards and two touchdowns, and by the final gun had turned in a performance that saw its best work on third downs (132.4 rating) and in the fourth quarter (153.3).

When it mattered most, Moore delivered better than he ever had as a pro.

"Tonight he played really well -- exceptionally well -- and put us in a lot of good situations to win this ballgame," Hoover said.

ANOTHER STARTING DEFENSE: Six days after walking with a protective boot around his ankle -- and two days after he was deemed questionable -- cornerback Richard Marshall started, giving the Panthers their expected defensive complement Sunday.

But because Carolina opened in a nickel formation with James Anderson at weakside linebacker and Charles Godfrey at free safety, the Panthers utilized their 14th starting defensive combination of the season, matching the franchise high of starting defenses established in 2007.

SPLIT SECONDS: The victory margin of 19 points was the Panthers' largest of the season ... Dwayne Jarrett was inactive for the first time all season. Smith, Muhsin Muhammad, Charly Martin and Kenneth Moore were the four wide receivers ... Rookie Garry Williams made his offensive debut Sunday, lining up as an eligible tackle in a short-yardage formation ... Rookie guard Duke Robinson was active for the first time, but did not play.