Panthers plagued by pitiful play at home

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The weather was beautiful, the stadium was nearly full, and fans, dressed in black and blue shirts, were ready to cheer on their Carolina Panthers.

And, as has become the norm, the home team disappointed.

Losses such as Sunday's 34-21 stinker to the Houston Texans are nothing new for the Panthers, who have a better road record (23-18) than home (22-19) under coach John Fox.

"It's fun to win anywhere, but it's special to win at home," quarterback Jake Delhomme said Monday. "We had a good crowd and we didn't play good football.

"I wish I had an answer for it."

The defeat, which dropped Carolina's record in home openers to 3-10, was another puzzler a week after an impressive win at St. Louis. The Panthers jumped out to a 14-0 lead before the game was 10 minutes old, and didn't score again until the Texans had built a 20-point lead.

"We didn't do anything in the last 45 minutes that gave us a chance to win," coach John Fox said. "You turn it over, you have drops, you don't execute on defense, on third down. All in all, you add that up and it's usually not very good."

There were many goats. Keary Colbert hardly looked ready for his role as starting receiver opposite Steve Smith. Colbert dropped three passes, while Drew Carter also let one slip through his hands.

The running game, impressive against the Rams, was stagnant. DeShaun Foster had nine carries for 22 yards and lost a fumble for a second consecutive week.

On defense, Houston's Matt Schaub picked apart a secondary that seemingly left the middle of the field wide open for easy short passes.

Perhaps the good news is Carolina faces 0-2 Atlanta on Sunday - on the road. Home sweet home has little meaning for a team that has lost four home openers in row.

"Your family is here and you want to play well," Delhomme said. "It's disappointing."


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