One week after getting carved up by Green Bay's Greg Jennings, the Minnesota Vikings secondary will have to prepare for a very hungry Steve Smith this Sunday.
For the fourth time this year, Carolina's Smith surpassed 140 yards receiving in a game as he continues to take aim at Jerry Rice's single-season mark for receiving yards in a season.
Smith has 818 yards through seven games with offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski calling the plays. The Panthers' offense has now scored 18 touchdowns this season, two more than it did all of last season.
"Sometimes you open up a restaurant and it's under new management," Smith said. "Sometimes you just have to blow the restaurant up and start all over. That's what coach (Ron) Rivera has done. He just didn't slap a new menu on there; he did it all over, new paint, new walls, new furniture, and everything.
"It's evident. As far as the relationship with Cam Newton, we are just always working and building, but it's all of us. It's not just me, it's L.A. (Legedu Naanee), (Brandon) LaFell, it's (Seyi Ajirotutu). It's all of us working hard. As far as me being re-energized, just a spade calling a spade, I've been sitting on the shelf for about two years, just collecting that dust. Get the cobwebs off, throw on a little WD-40 and let me go to work."
The Panthers have a chance to dig out of a big hole with winnable home games coming up against Minnesota and Tennessee with a bye sandwiched in between. With two wins they can get back to 4-5.
"It's huge," tackle Jordan Gross said of Sunday's win. "We needed this so bad. We had a tough stretch with a lot of great teams. We played them all tough, but this was a game we had to win. To do it well, I couldn't be happier for our team and for our fans especially. They've been committed to what we're doing the whole time and supported us. We had to do it."
Added linebacker James Anderson: "It's so big for us as a team. Everybody has said, 'You're right there, you're right there' and now we've had the opportunity to get over the hump. Now we have to keep building on it."