Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Little-noticed Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme shines in the playoffs

Big-game quarterbacks tend to become big-name quarterbacks.

There's Joe Montana, Johnny Unitas, Bart Starr, Roger Staubach and Terry Bradshaw from the past.

There's Tom Brady, Brett Favre and Ben Roethlisberger among the present.

And then there's Jake Delhomme.

The Carolina quarterback certainly doesn't have the lofty reputation of the others. Much less the glamorous lifestyle, the highlight-reel resume, the dominating physical tools or even the eye-popping stats.

No, all he has is the bottom line results: 18 fourth-quarter/overtime winning drives in his five full seasons (including 12 in the final two minutes), and an impressive 5-2 record in playoff games and a 95 postseason quarterback rating (better than any of the other quarterbacks who played in January).

Delhomme insists his knack for coming through when it matters most is nothing special, and that the key is doing nothing different.

"I don't know, I've been on a good football team. That's what I believe," Delhomme said. "I just, I'm not trying to be anyone else.

"Certainly, the playoffs, they're on a bigger stage, there'll be more media following and everything. Our lives we lead coming into work every day and going home, it's the same as the regular season. … That's how I always looked at it. Don't make it bigger than what it is. It's still another game. You still have to do what you did during the season because obviously you did some decent things, and carry them over."

The Panthers are just happy to have him in the game. They saw what life was like without him last season, when he blew out his right elbow in the third game and needed Tommy John surgery, forcing him to miss the rest of what became a brutal 7-9 season.

"I've said this many times: I think when Jake's been in the game, whether it's playoffs or regular season, we've had better opportunities," Carolina coach John Fox said. "And I think that record speaks for itself. Unfortunately, we went for a stretch there where we didn't have him. … I think it's fairly obvious that I'm happy he's in there, whether it's regular season or playoffs."

The Panthers tied Delhomme's return this season to a reconstruction of their offense, pairing rookie Jonathan Stewart with DeAngelo Williams in the backfield to re-establish the running game Fox favors, and re-signed receiver Muhsin Muhammad to provide another option to Steve Smith when they do want to throw it.

The results were more than obvious, as the Panthers finished with 414 points, second most in franchise history, including 28 or more in each of their last seven games. Plus, they had a team-record six games of 400 or more yards of offense. Though ranked 10th in the NFL in total yards (349.7 per game), they were seventh in points (25.9) and third in rushing (152.3).

Delhomme's overall stats were relatively pedestrian — 246-of-414 passes for 3,288 yards, 15 TDs, 11 interceptions, an 84.7 QB rating — but, as usual, he came through when they needed him, engineering four winning drives.

"We started the season with a two-minute drive that resulted in a win over San Diego, and Jake threw the winning touchdown," Muhammad told the Charlotte Observer. "We ended the season with a winning drive (against New Orleans) where we kicked a field goal, and Jake orchestrated that same drive.

"If you want to look at the bottom-line statistics as far as being a leader and things that are intangible, I think Jake does a great job."

The Panthers finished 12-4 (including 8-0 at home) to win the NFC South and the NFC's No. 2 seed, and Saturday night — on Delhomme's 34th birthday — they'll host the Cardinals for the chance to play for the NFC championship for the third time in six seasons.

"You've seen a difference between last year and this year, having him and not having him," left tackle Jordan Gross told the Associated Press. "He's definitely our leader and the whole team revolves around him."

Marc Topkin can be reached at

Little-noticed Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme shines in the playoffs 01/06/09 [Last modified: Sunday, January 11, 2009 7:02pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Get the latest Tampa Bay Buccaneers news delivered daily to your email inbox


    They narrowly missed the playoffs by thismuch.

    Bucs wide receiver Mike Evans (13) celebrates with quarterback Jameis Winston (3) after they connected for a touchdown during a win over the Seattle Seahawks in November in Tampa. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  2. For starters: Rays at Yankees, in a pretty big series


    The Rays open a challenging road trip tonight in New York, the first of four games against the wild-card leading Yankees.

    Chris Archer will be on the mound for the Rays.
  3. Bucs' O.J. Howard says in NFL, 'it's an SEC game every day'


    Bucs rookie O.J. Howard hasn't played in an NFL game yet, but he already appreciates the grind of an NFL season -- every week can be a loss, perhaps more so than in college football, where Alabama went 12-0 in nonconference, non-bowl games in his three years there.

    Bucs rookie O.J. Howard, shown playing for Alabama in the national championship game in Tampa in January, says every game in the NFL is an SEC game, with no letdowns.
  4. Bucs' Mike Evans wants his 'A' game in 4th NFL season


    Bucs receiver Mike Evans has been in the NFL for three seasons, and in two of them, he's had 12 touchdown catches, setting and then matching his own team record. He made the Pro Bowl for the first time last season, but if you ask him to grade those three years, he doesn't see an "A" product just yet.

    Bucs receiver Mike Evans, shown during an OTA workout last month, said he wouldn't give himself an "A" for any of his first three NFL seasons, despite going to the Pro Bowl and twice catching 12 touchdown passes in a season.
  5. Where Tampa's national championship ranks among the greatest games ever


    If you needed any more convincing that Tampa's national championship at Raymond James Stadium was one of the best games in college football history, let me direct you to