- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 11, 2009

CHARLOTTE, N.C. | Never during his 21-game tenure had a Jim Zorn-coached Washington Redskins team led by as many as 15 points.

And it still didn’t matter.

Up 17-2 early in the second half, the Redskins allowed winless Carolina to rally for a 20-17 victory today at Bank of America Stadium.

The Panthers’ winning points came with 9:21 remaining on Jonathan Stewart’s 8-yard touchdown run. Carolina held possession for the 5:16, in part because the Redskins had used all of their timeouts by the eight-minute mark of the fourth quarter.

The Redskins, who fell to 2-3, played without left tackle Chris Samuels for all but the first two offensive plays and managed only 198 yards.

And they lost despite a goal-line stand, a fumble recovery, interception and three sacks by the defense.

“We ran into some problems moving the ball later on,” Zorn told ESPN-980 after the game. “It was very difficult to watch it dwindle.”

The defeat ended a tumultuous week that included the hiring of offensive consultant Sherman Lewis, defensive coordinator Greg Blache’s announcement he was no longer answering questions from the media, the Mike Sellers-Portis locker room dust-up and, revealed before kickoff, the addition of Mike Williams at right guard in place of Chad Rinehart.

Carolina sacked quarterback Jason Campbell five times and held Clinton Portis to 3 yards per carry.

Trailing 17-9, Carolina used a good bounce to take its first lead. The Panthers’ punt downfield hit Redskins blocker Byron Westbrook in the leg and Carolina recovered at the Redskins’ 12. Coach Jim Zorn’s challenge that the kick hit a Carolina player first did not pan out.

Two plays later, Jonathan Stewart rolled untouched for an 8-yard touchdown run with 9:21 remaining. A Jake Delhomme-to-Steve Smith connection on the two-point conversion made it 20-17 Panthers.

The Redskins stalled at their own 49 and Carolina got possession back with 5:15 remaining. Problem was, Washington had used all of its timeouts.

Leading 10-2 at halftime, the Redskins’ defense forced Carolina into a third-and-long on its first possession of the second half. Delhomme found an open Mushin Muhammad but the pass went through his hands and was intercepted at the 45 by DeAngelo Hall.

Hall’s 44-yard return set up Portis’ over-the-top 1-yard touchdown run to make it 17-2.

The Redskins’ first two touchdown drives were 10 yards and 1 yard.

Carolina answered thanks to a 55-yard kickoff return by Kenneth Moore. Two plays later, Delhomme threw 18 yards to Smith, who held on despite being sandwiched by LaRon Landry and London Fletcher. On the next play, tight end Jeff King used an in-and-out move to beat Brian Orakpo for a 17-yard touchdown catch. The Panthers opted for the extra point and trailed 17-9.

The Redskins moved into Carolina territory on their next drive but an illegal motion penalty on Batiste erased a 13-yard third-down conversion to Antwaan Randle El. Two plays later, Campbell’s fourth-and-3 pass from the 37 was batted down by Thomas Davis.

Carolina ended the third quarter with Delhomme completions of 17 (Steve Smith), 4 (Muhammad) and 15 yards (Muhammad) to reach the Redskins’ 23. But the Panthers stalled and when Orakpo and Andre Carter combined to sack Delhomme, Carolina settled for John Kasay’s 43-yard field goal with 14:15 remaining to cut the Redskins’ lead to 17-12.

Good fortune helped the Redskins take a 7-0 lead just 1:06 into the game.

On Carolina’s first play, Kedric Golston forced a DeAngelo Williams that was recovered by Albert Haynesworth at the Panthers’ 13.

Two plays later, the Redskins scored on Campbell’s 10-yard pass to Portis in the right flat. But it came at a cost Samuels sustained a stinger when he butted heads with a Carolina defender. He was replaced by D’Anthony Batiste and never returned to the game.

Carolina started the second quarter in position to tie the game when Delhomme threw 22 yards to Dante Rosario to set up a first-and-goal from the Redskins 2.

But the Redskins’ defense rose up to stuff Jonathan Stewart on first and second downs and hold Williams to a 1-yard gain.

Cue chaos on fourth down.

Fullback Jeff Hoover was stopped. But he fumbled and it was recovered by King. But the Redskins were awarded possession — following a Carolina challenge — because a team is not allowed to advance a fumble on fourth down.

Two plays later, the Panthers got two points back when Julius Peppers pushed back Stephon Heyer to stuff Portis for a safety.

After a three-and-out by the Panthers, the Redskins drove 60 yards on 10 plays to take a 10-2 lead on Shaun Suisham’s 38-yard field goal with 1:45 left in the half. The key play was a 23-yard pass to Santana Moss. The drive stalled with a pair of incompletions from the Carolina 19.

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