Williams' career-best game helps Panthers blank Chiefs
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|Panthers QB Jake Delhomme tossed two touchdowns to help Carolina crush Kansas City and improve to 4-1.|
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Herm Edwards came up to John Fox an hour before kickoff and gave him a hearty bear hug. The former college teammates then exchanged stories and laughs.
But the second matchup of the ex-San Diego State defensive backs was no fair fight: Fox has the Carolina Panthers looking like an NFC contender, and Edwards' Kansas City Chiefs are still clearly rebuilding, no matter what happened last week.
DeAngelo Williams had 123 yards rushing and scored three touchdowns and the Panthers held Larry Johnson to 2 yards rushing in a 34-0 win Sunday.
It was the first time in six years that the Chiefs were blanked.
"It's been a while since we've had a game like this," said Fox, after Carolina's most lopsided win in team history.
The Panthers (4-1), who have missed the playoffs the past two seasons, are off to their best start since reaching the Super Bowl in the 2003 season. It was one of their most dominating performances since they crushed the Edwards-coached New York Jets 30-3 in 2005 on the way to reaching the NFC Championship game.
You can't blame Edwards if he wants no part of another game against Fox.
"I didn't see that coming at all. We were a confident team after last week's game," Edwards said of the Chiefs (1-4), who routed Denver to end a franchise-record 12-game losing streak. "Then we come in here and we acted like we've never played before."
The Panthers had a lot to do with it.
Williams and Jonathan Stewart ran through a woeful defense that also couldn't stop the pass. Steve Smith caught six passes for 96 yards, Muhsin Muhammad had a 47-yard touchdown catch and the Panthers moved to 3-0 at Bank of America Stadium after going 2-6 at home last season.
"We had talent last year, but I don't think the chemistry was there," safety Chris Harris said. "We've got great chemistry. Guys like each other, and that's huge."
After holding Atlanta to three field goals last week, the Panthers' swarming, speedy defense gave up only 127 yards, and again stopped a top running back. Johnson, who had rushed for 319 yards in the past two games, had 2 yards on seven carries.
"You know they're going to gang up on the run because of the success we had before, and that's what you have to live with," said Johnson, who joined LaDainian Tomlinson, Matt Forte, Adrian Peterson and Michael Turner in all failing to gain 100 yards against Carolina.
Johnson's ineffectiveness forced Damon Huard to throw -- or at least try to.
Huard completed only 10 of 21 passes for 86 yards and two interceptions. He also lost a fumble and the Chiefs didn't pick up their second first down until the Panthers had a 24-0 third-quarter lead.
Kansas City's only highlight in a miserable day was a personal milestone.
Tony Gonzalez caught a 6-yard pass late in the first quarter to move past Shannon Sharpe for the NFL's career leader for yards receiving for a tight end. But that catch came on third-and-16, leading to one of Dustin Colquitt's seven punts.
Gonzalez was in no mood to celebrate after the Chiefs' first shutout since losing 24-0 to Oakland in the final game of the 2002 season.
"That was the worst I've ever been involved with, in my professional career," Gonzalez said. "We couldn't get anything going -- offense, defense, special teams. So embarrassing."
"As a defense we got faster," Beason said of the offseason moves that saw defensive tackle Kris Jenkins traded and defensive end Mike Rucker retire. "Those people up front have an engine."
The Panthers were without starting offensive tackles Jordan Gross (concussion) and Jeff Otah (ankle), but it didn't matter. Frank Omiyale made his first NFL start and fill-in Jeremy Bridges helped the Panthers open giant holes for Williams and Stewart.
Williams also had a 10-yard TD run and caught a 25-yard TD pass from Delhomme in a dominating first half that saw the Chiefs manage one first down and 29 yards.
Notes: Panthers WR D.J. Hackett (knee) was sidelined in the first quarter. With Dwayne Jarrett inactive, Mark Jones filled in as the No. 3 receiver and had a 19-yard reception. ... Panthers C Ryan Kalil (ankle) and DE Hilee Taylor (knee) were also injured. ... Thigpen completed 5 of 10 passes for 37 yards.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press