Strickly Panthers: Moore writes happy ending

CHARLOTTE – For one play, quarterback Matt Moore panicked, and downtrodden Carolina Panthers fans feared that they saw the writing on the wall.

Moore, however, remembered what he had written leading up to his first start in more than a month Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers.

"Our quarterbacks coach (Rip Scherer) kind of sprung something on us last night. He gave us a piece of paper and told us to write down five things that were going to help us win," Moore said. "It's kind of ironic because the first thing I wrote down was poise. You have to keep your poise."

Moore lost his poise momentarily when he threw an ill-advised screen pass that 49ers defensive tackle Ray McDonald picked off and returned 31 yards for a touchdown and a 20-13 lead in the fourth quarter.

Moore, however, regained it after a quick pep talk from Scherer and completed clutch passes on both a touchdown drive that tied the score and a last-minute drive for the game-winning field goal.

"When I hit the guy in the chest and he ran over me and scored, it was tough to keep my poise," Moore said. "The first thing (Scherer) said to me was, 'We are going to get it back.'

"Credit him for keeping me sane, and credit the guys, because they made plays."

Moore's guys on this day were a pair of rookie receivers. David Gettis caught both of Moore's touchdown passes -- including a 23-yarder with 1:53 left to tie the game – and Brandon LaFell caught a 35-yarder to set up the game-winning field goal with 39 seconds left.

The duo combined for 14 catches for 216 yards after combining for 15 catches for 202 yards over the first five games of the season.

"People are aware of those guys now. They're impact guys now," Moore said. "Guys can't double Steve (Smith) as much as they want to now that the young guys have come along nicely."

Smith, returning from an ankle injury, added four catches for 50 yards and had an even bigger impact – an emotional impact – on special teams. Smith returned five punts Sunday after returning a total of three punts over his previous 51 games.

"That was awesome," Moore said. "I loved that. All the guys on the team loved it. The first punt, everybody got up off the bench. That fired up everybody."

Moore fired up his teammates with his play as well, a far cry from his impact when he struggled through the first two games of the season and was replaced by rookie Jimmy Clausen. Moore, however, through practice and film study – including review of his more successful games from the past – looked like a different quarterback Sunday.

"We really worked together to find whatever it was that made us go last year," Moore said. "You focus most of your time on your next opponent, but you also have to look at yourself."

Now, if Moore ever finds himself in a slump again, he might just have to put in the tape of Sunday's game.

"He did a great job of managing the game for us," Gettis said. "I'm really happy for him to get this win."

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