Delhomme's bootleg against Redskins seals Panthers' first victory

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Jake Delhomme got up, his shoulder pads sticking out and his chin strap bunched around his mouth. He pumped both fists and yelled, letting out a month of frustration.

His eighth interception of the season earlier in the day? Forgotten. Carolina's winless start was over, too.

Delhomme's bold bootleg run for a first down on third-and-8 and an earlier disputed call helped the Panthers rally past the Redskins 20-17 on Sunday, a day of vindication for Delhomme and more trouble for embattled Washington coach Jim Zorn.

"Anything that could have gone wrong the first month or so has gone wrong," Delhomme said. "We'll take it any way we can get it."

The Panthers (1-3) scored the game's final 18 points, with Jonathan Stewart's 8-yard run with 9:21 left the go-ahead touchdown after a bizarre fumbled punt gave the Panthers the ball at the Washington 12.

"You talk about a monkey on your back, this was a gorilla," coach John Fox said.

Delhomme, who entered with 15 turnovers in his last 15 quarters, suggested it was more like a colony of gorillas, perhaps the weight Zorn is feeling after the Redskins' latest meltdown.

Leading 17-12, Washington (2-3) forced a punt with just over 10 minutes left. Carolina's Quinton Teal blocked Washington's Byron Westbrook into returner Antwaan Randle El, which was ruled a legal play because Randle El had moved forward due to the short punt. The ball bounced off Westbrook's foot and Carolina's Dante Wesley pounced on the ball.

The officials initially awarded the ball to Washington. They then determined the ball hit Westbrook first and gave it to Carolina, a call upheld after Washington challenged.

"The Washington guy got blocked into his own man, so there was no interference," referee Walt Coleman said.

Stewart's TD two plays later gave Carolina its first lead. Delhomme then connected with Steve Smith on a 2-point conversion.

The Panthers' improved defense, led by Thomas Davis and Julius Peppers, then forced a punt. Facing third-and-8 from his 25 with 2 minutes left, Delhomme faked a handoff to Stewart and rolled right.

He lumbered to the corner and was met by DeAngelo Hall. Delhomme stiff-armed him, dragging him for the extra yard and the first down.

"I figured he might have the ball so I sprinted out a yard too short," Hall said.

It allowed Delhomme to pump his fist again before taking a knee and running out the clock. He completed 16 of 25 passes for 181 yards.

Delhomme still has only three TDs to go with eight INTs, but the Panthers feel the victory could jump-start a turnaround with games against struggling Tampa Bay and Buffalo the next two weeks.

The Redskins haven't taken advantage of their weak schedule, falling to 10-11 under Zorn. Newly hired offensive consultant Sherman Lewis watched Washington build and then cough up a 17-2 lead thanks to two drives totaling 14 yards.

DeAngelo Williams fumbled on the first play from scrimmage and Albert Haynesworth recovered. Two plays later, Jason Campbell's 10-yard pass to Clinton Portis made it 7-0.

Hall later intercepted Delhomme and raced 45 yards to the Carolina 1, and Portis' 1-yard run was his first TD rushing this season.

Kenny Moore then returned the kickoff 55 yards, leading to Delhomme's 17-yard pass to Jeff King to make it 17-9. This time King's TD counted.

In the first half, Brad Hoover fumbled near the goal line and King recovered in the end zone. An obscure rule -- enacted after Oakland intentionally fumbled the ball forward to win a game in 1978 -- doesn't allow an offensive player other than the fumbler to recover in the end zone on fourth down, giving the Redskins the ball.

Three plays later, Portis was dumped in the end zone by Peppers and Davis for a safety, Carolina's only first-half points.

It was the kind of sloppiness befitting two struggling teams.

The Redskins shook up their offensive line, giving Mike Williams the start at right guard in his first game since the 2005 season, and leaving Chad Rinehart inactive. Then left tackle Chris Samuels went down with a stinger in the first quarter and was replaced by D'Anthony Batiste.

Campbell was sacked five times, including once by Peppers, three days after linebacker Jon Beason said in a radio interview that he was going to talk to Peppers about his lack of production.

"We lost to Detroit on the road. We come here and lose to Carolina," said Campbell, who threw for 145 yards. "This one stings more."

Game notes
Portis was held to 57 yards rushing and Williams to 40. ... Panthers WR Muhsin Muhammad went over 11,000 yards receiving with a 9-yard grab in the first quarter. He ranks fifth among active NFL receivers. ... Haynesworth was shaken up in the first half but later returned.