After getting torched a second straight week, the Panthers secondary is
going to have to find a way to stop the Lions on Sunday at Ford Field.
Arizona's Josh McCown threw for 394 yards and two scores last week, but
luckily for the Panthers, cornerback Ken Lucas bailed them out.
Late in the first half with Carolina trailing 17-10, the Panthers star
cornerback approached the coaching staff and asked that they put him on
Arizona wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald for the remainder of the game,
promising to shut him down.
And he did.
Fitzgerald, who had six catches for 106 yards and a touchdown prior to
the switch, had just three catches for 30 yards against Lucas the rest of
"I knew Chris (Gamble) wasn't 100 percent, and they were just throwing it
over there up for grabs, and he wasn't able to do a lot of things he was
capable of doing if he was healthy," Lucas said. "I got on Number 11
(Fitzgerald) because they throw jump balls to him."
Although the Panthers gave up 394 yards passing, Lucas clearly wasn't the
problem for the Panthers.
In fact, he was the answer.
Lucas tipped two passes that were intercepted by safety Marlon McCree and
also recovered a fumble that set up a touchdown early in the fourth quarter.
One of those interceptions came on a key fourth-and-6 attempt in the end
zone with less than two minutes to play.
"You could tell that Chris Gamble wasn't ready so we told him, 'Go sit
down, we've got this,'" safety Mike Minter said. "We put Lucas over on
Number 11, and he shut him down in the second half. Hey, that's our shutdown
corner, and he showed it today."
Gamble missed most of practice last week with a sprained ankle, but tried
to play Sunday.
But while his effort was valiant, the truth is he would have served his
team better had he stayed in Charlotte.
Gamble had a horrendous first half as McCown threw for 274 yards and
Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin both went over 100 yards receiving and caught
Most of those passes came against the hobbled Gamble.
After dropping an interception opportunity on the second play of the
game, Gamble gave up three passes of longer than 46 yards -- a 47-yarder to
Fitzgerald, a 46-yarder to Boldin and a 49-yarder to Charles Lee. He also
was one of four guys to miss a tackle on a 20-yard touchdown reception by
"It started bothering me a little bit so I told them I wanted to sit
out," Gamble said. "I didn't feel like I was able to move and jump and break
on the ball like I wanted to."
Meanwhile, Carolina's other corners did their job, holding Boldin in
check. After six grabs for 109 yards in the first half, Boldin was limited
to four catches for 49 yards by the likes of Ricky Manning Jr., Dante Wesley
and Garnell Wilds.
But Lucas was the big difference.
The Panthers gave him a $13 million signing bonus in the offseason, and
on Sunday it paid off big time as he helped win an important game and get
the team above .500.
"It was pretty simple," Lucas said. "We took Number 11 out of the game
and made it a close game."
Gamble believes he will be able to play this week against Detroit.