DeAngelo Williams (AP)
“It’s nothing personal, it’s just business.”
That was the slogan on Steve Smith’s shirt as he warmed up before Monday night’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
True or not, the Panthers handled their business Monday night as the Panthers’ running game thrashed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, amassing 301 yards and four touchdowns on National television.
Carolina’s running back tandem, DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, became the first duo to rush for at least 100 yards, two touchdowns and average at least seven yards per carry in the same game.
“Smash and Dash, they did a great job,” Panther receiver Steve Smith said. “They ran the ball hard. You can't say enough good things about them. They did an outstanding job.”
DeAngelo Williams continued where he left off last week, gaining 186 yards on 19 carries and notching 2 more touchdowns, giving him 13 for the season and breaking Stephen Davis’ record of 12 set in 2005. Williams’ 186-yard game also broke the single game rushing record he set against the Detroit Lions earlier in the season and made him just the third 1,000-yard rusher in team history. As it stands right now, Williams has the second-most yards in a single season already with 1,141, only 303 yards shy of Stephen Davis’ 1,444 set in 2003. Williams has to average 102 yards a game for the next three games to break Davis’ record.
“The offensive line and the fullback did a great job blocking for us today,” said Williams. “It came down to the third and fourth quarter, and we finished it. I'm really excited about our offensive line and our fullbacks and our wide receivers blocking downfield.”
Fellow running back Jonathan Stewart chipped-in 115 yards and two more touchdowns as he set the Panthers’ rookie touchdown record on his 8th of the season.
“You can tell when you are running the ball the way we were today that it takes a lot out of the defense, just to be running back and forth chasing the running back,” Stewart said. “It takes a toll on the offense if they are not getting yards or it takes the toll on the defense when you are running on them.”
“It's what we are built around,” Panthers head coach John Fox said of his ground-geared offense. “It's something we worked on. I think we got bigger and more physical up front. Those two backs (DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart) are both pretty special. That's what we tried to build around, and we have the people to do it.”
“The two great running backs, two different styles, but I think both of them work really hard and have really good speed,” said receiver Muhsin Muhammad. “I think DeAngelo is more of a make and miss guy. And Jonathan is more of a breaking tackles guy. But they both break tackles. They both run extremely well and they complement each other well. Back in the day, we had Stephen Davis and DeShaun Foster when we went to the Super Bowl before. Those two guys complemented each other pretty well at that time, but these two guys are really different, but they are good the way they play.”
The fact that Tampa had only allowed one rushing touchdown through 12 games this season made the four the Panthers scored Monday night even sweeter. In the their previous matchup this season in Tampa, the Panthers gained a paltry 40 yards on the ground and only managed a field goal in a game marred by mistakes, penalties and turnovers.
“We try not to focus on what happened last time, because it is foolish to do that,” said Smith. “You don't play it as a revenge game. You play it as another opportunity to win the game. And when you have more wins than losses, you are always doing a good job. “
It’s nothing personal, it’s just business.