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Lucas bails out panthers
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 the game.
"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 touchdown passes.
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 Boldin.
"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.
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