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Strickly Panthers: St. Pierre's dream derailed


CHARLOTTE – It's the stuff of storybooks.

Brian St. Pierre, more than seven years after being drafted and nearly one year removed from his last football job, comes out of nowhere and knocks off the Baltimore Ravens in his first NFL start.

For the briefest of moments, it looked like St. Pierre might be able to come up with one for the books.

Alas, happy endings have been elusive for the Carolina Panthers in 2010.

"We had a chance in the fourth quarter. It was a one-score game with a lot of time left," St. Pierre said. "I'm disappointed. I don't take any moral solace or moral victory out of this. I don't think anyone in that locker room does.

"It wasn't about me at all this week. It was about us getting a win. That was the most important thing."

St. Pierre hooked up with wide receiver David Gettis for an 88-yard touchdown pass on the second play of the fourth quarter to trim what had been a 17-point deficit down to 20-13, and the Panthers got the ball back soon after.

But they couldn't come up with a fairy-tale ending for the final chapter, as the Ravens intercepted Pierre on back-to-back offensive plays and returned both for touchdowns to run away with a 37-13 victory.

"I really thought we had a lot of life there," said St. Pierre, who completed 13 of 28 passes for 173 yards. "I just didn't make enough plays down the stretch to win.

"The score is certainly not indicative of the type of game it was. That's on me, too."

There was a lot heaped on St. Pierre this week. Before last week, he hadn't been in an NFL locker room since last season, when the 2003 draft pick out of Boston College completed 2 of 4 passes for 12 yards in the Arizona Cardinals' season finale.

Before that game, he had attempted just one pass in his NFL career.

Then on Nov. 12, with Panthers starting quarterback Matt Moore out for the season with a shoulder injury, the Panthers signed St. Pierre to their practice squad.

Tuesday, with rookie quarterback Jimmy Clausen recovering from a concussion, St. Pierre joined to the active roster. Thursday, to the astonishment of many, St. Pierre moved to No. 1 on the depth chart.

"It's my responsibility … to go with whoever we all think can give us the best chance to win," head coach John Fox said. "I thought he did that."

While Fox said St. Pierre played well and noted that blame for the late interceptions couldn't be pinned all on the quarterback, Fox said Clausen likely would start next week at Cleveland if he has recovered, because "I think Jimmy healthy gives us the best opportunity."

Sunday, the Panthers had a better opportunity with St. Pierre than many thought they would. He didn't make many notable plays through the first three quarters but also didn't make any noteworthy mistakes.

"The coaching staff understood the situation, me coming off three practices in my career as a Carolina Panther," St. Pierre said. "Going into a game, we were hoping the defense would keep us in it. We were conservative early – and a lot of that was because of me – but we hung around and kept fighting, and we were in a position to get back in the game midway through the fourth quarter, which is where you want to be."

And they did get back in it, when St. Pierre and Gettis connected to bring Carolina within a touchdown.

"He did well," Gettis said. "He had to learn the offense in a couple of days. Honestly, it's still taking me time to get the offense down, so for a guy to come in after a couple of days, I thought he handled it well."

In the end though, the unlikely quarterback living out a dream while living in a hotel couldn't quite script a Hollywood ending.

"I didn't want to let anyone down, especially on my team and teammates. I didn't want to be the reason," St. Pierre said. "Unfortunately I was definitely part of it. I know I haven't played a lot in this league, but I have a lot of pride in doing my job and doing my job right.

"I wished I did it a little better today."

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