The Series: With the 20-10 victory, the Patriots lead the all-time series 3-2, including a win over the Panthers in Super Bowl XXXVIII (2/1/04). Carolina finished the year with an 0-4 mark against AFC East opponents and has an all-time 7-13 regular-season record versus AFC East teams.
Inactives: The following eight players were inactive for the Panthers: defensive end Tyler Brayton, quarterback Jake Delhomme, fullback Tony Fiammetta, running back Mike Goodson, defensive tackle Derek Landri, wide receiver Kenneth Moore, guard Duke Robinson, and cornerback C.J. Wilson.
For Starters: Charles Johnson started at defensive end for Tyler Brayton, who was inactive with a concussion. Rookie cornerback Captain Munnerlyn made his third start of the season as the Panthers opened in a nickel defense. The changes resulted in Carolina's 13th different defensive starting alignment in as many games this year. Offensively, Matt Moore started his second consecutive game at quarterback in place of Jake Delhomme, who was out with a broken finger on his right hand.
Takeaway/Giveaway: Carolina forced three turnovers on an interception by cornerback Chris Gamble, a fumble that was recovered by linebacker Dan Connor and forced by safety Chris Harris, and a fumble that was recovered by cornerback Captain Munnerlyn and forced by safety Charles Godfrey. The Panthers did not commit any turnovers, their third error-free game this season, to finish with a plus-three turnover ratio. The three takeaways resulted in seven points for Carolina. The Panthers have a negative-three turnover ratio this season.
Not included in the three takeaways was a turnover on downs by the defense. Linebacker Jon Beason and Connor stuffed Patriots running back Sammy Morris for a one-yard loss on fourth-and-one from Carolina's 40-yard line on New England's first possession of the game to get the ball back for the offense.
The Panthers, who began the game tied for fourth in the NFL in takeaways, have forced 28 turnovers on 18 interceptions and 10 fumbles this year. In the last seven games, Carolina has collected 21 takeaways after generating just seven in the first six games.
Good Gamble: Cornerback Chris Gamble intercepted a pass for the third consecutive game when he picked off Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in the first quarter at New England's 48 yards-line. The theft set up a Panthers' touchdown two plays later. Gamble's three consecutive games with an interception equal the second-longest streak in team history, previously accomplished three times - most recently by Eric Davis in 1999. The team record for the most consecutive games with an interception is six by Doug Evans in 2001.
Gamble leads the Panthers with four picks this season and ranks second in team history with 24 interceptions and 283 interception return yards behind Davis with 25 interceptions and Mike Minter with 418 interception return yards. Carolina's first-round draft choice in 2004, he has led or tied for the team lead in interceptions in four of his first five seasons in addition to ranking first this year.
Harris Wreaks Havoc: Safety Chris Harris created a turnover for the third consecutive game by causing Patriots wide receiver Randy Moss to fumble on the first play of the second quarter. Last week versus Tampa Bay (12/6/09), he recorded his first interception of the season with a heist in the end zone to prevent a touchdown. At the New York Jets (11/29/09), Harris knocked the ball away from Jets tight end Dustin Keller at Carolina's one-yard line as he attempted to stretch the ball over the goal line.
Harris has a knack for taking the ball away. In 2007, he led the NFL and set a Panthers' single-season record with eight forced fumbles. In addition to the eight forced fumbles, Harris recovered three fumbles and posted one interception to play a role in eight of Carolina's 30 takeaways.
Jungle Net: Carolina held New England, who began the game as the NFL's fifth-highest scoring team with an average of 27.3 points per game, to 20 points. The Panthers yielded 377 total net yards to the Patriots, who were ranked second in the NFL in total offense with an average of 414.6 yards per game. Carolina limited New England - who was second in the league with an average of 301.6 passing yards per game - to 192 passing yards but gave up 185 rushing yards. The Patriots - who were rated seventh in the NFL in third-down efficiency - converted only three-of-11 third-down opportunities and one-of-two fourth-down chances.
Ground Gains: Behind an offensive line featuring Travelle Wharton at left tackle, Mackenzy Bernadeau at left guard, Ryan Kalil at center, Keydrick Vincent at right guard and Jeff Otah at right tackle, the Panthers' third-ranked rushing attack gained 126 yards on 24 attempts for an average of 5.3 yards per carry. Carolina is averaging 149.9 yards rushing per game and 4.8 yards per rush this season
Williams Rushes Forward: Running back DeAngelo Williams rushed for a team-leading 82 yards on 13 carries and added two catches for 15 yards to total 97 combined net yards. With a 26-yard scamper in the third quarter, he has had at least one run of 25 yards or more in five of his last six games. Williams leads the Panthers with 1,104 yards - the first time in team history a player has recorded back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons after gaining a team-record 1,515 yards in 2008 - and seven touchdowns on 210 carries this season and is third on the team with 28 receptions for 249 yards.
Moore Notes: Quarterback Matt Moore completed 15-of-a career-high-30 passes for 197 yards and one touchdown with no interceptions to produce an 82.2 quarterback rating. He connected with wide receiver Steve Smith on a 41-yard touchdown in the first quarter. Moore surpassed his previous high of 28 attempts versus Dallas (12/22/07). In four games with two starts this season, Moore has completed 35-of-62 passes for 421 yards and one touchdown with two interceptions.
On The Receiving End: Wide receiver Muhsin Muhammad tied for the team lead with three receptions for 29 yards. He is second on the Panthers with 41 catches for 411 yards this season.
Wide receiver Steve Smith tallied a team-high 83 receiving yards and one touchdown - scoring on a 41-yard catch in the first quarter - on two receptions. He also accounted for seven yards rushing, picking up two yards out of the Wildcat formation and gaining five yards on a reverse. Smith leads the Panthers with 51 catches for 765 yards and five touchdowns this season.
Tight ends combined to catch six passes for 49 yards. Dante Rosario tied for the team lead with three receptions for 26 yards while Jeff King snagged two catches for 16 yards and Gary Barnidge made one grab for seven yards.
The Specialists: Kicker John Kasay connected on one-of-two field-goal attempts, converting from 36 yards and missing short from 53 yards, and his only extra-point chance. He has been successful on 17-of-22 field-goal attempts and perfect on all 22 of his extra-point opportunities for a team-leading 73 points this season. Kasay ranks seventh in NFL history with 403 made field goals and 10th with 1,707 points scored - including a franchise record 1,366 for the Panthers - and has made a team-record 157 consecutive extra points.
Of Kasay's five missed field goals this year, three have come on attempts longer than 50 yards. Over his 19-year NFL career with Seattle and Carolina, Kasay has made 37-of-74 attempts of more than 50 yards, including 31-of-64 for the Panthers, with a career long 56-yarder versus Green Bay (9/27/98).
Punter Jason Baker punted a season-high seven times and generated a gross average of 39.7 yards and net average of 33.0 yards with one inside the 20, no touchbacks and long of 47. His gross average decreased to 44.9 yards and his net average fell to 36.8 yards with 19 punts inside the 20, three touchbacks, one block and long of 61 yards this season.
Penalty Markers: The Panthers committed nine penalties for a season-high 92 yards. As a result, New England gained five first downs via penalty to tie the record for the second-most first downs allowed in a game by penalty, previously accomplished twice - most recently versus Arizona (11/21/04). The record for most first downs allowed by penalty is six versus Atlanta (10/3/04).
Pats Stats: Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker matched the record for the second-most receptions in a game against the Panthers with 10, previously accomplished seven times - most recently by Anquan Boldin for Arizona (10/9/05). Welker leads the NFL with 105 catches this season. The record for the most receptions in a game by an opponent is 13 by Joe Horn for New Orleans (12/2/01)...Carolina allowed a 96-yard drive in the third quarter that ended with a New England touchdown. It represented the fourth-longest drive ever by an opponent in team history. The Panthers have previously surrendered a 98-yard drive on three occasions, most recently at Tampa Bay (12/20/07).