Packers 24, Panthers 14
Ahman Green ran up, down and all over the defending NFC champion Carolina Panthers.
Green ran for two touchdowns and caught a third on Monday night to lead the Green Bay Packers to a 24-14 victory over the Panthers, who became the sixth straight team to lose in the Super Bowl and their ensuing season opener.
Unable to stop the run or run the ball -- the two main principles that carried them all last season -- the Panthers were out of sync from start to finish.
"We ran right at them," Green said. "We knew coming into this game the running game had to be established."
Green scored on touchdown runs of three and six yards and rushed for 119 yards against a Carolina defense that only gave up four individual 100-yard rushing games last season. He did it with ease, giving no indication that this was the first time this year that Green Bay's entire offensive unit was on the field together.
Carolina, meantime, showed just how bad its patchwork offensive line really is. With three of its starters from last season gone, a rotating group of aging veterans has tried to fill the holes.
But behind 35-year-old Matt Willig, who last started a game at right tackle in 1997, and 33-year-old Rich Tylski, who was out of football the past two years, the Panthers could do nothing.
Stephen Davis, who ran for a career-high 1,444 yards last year, was held to 26 yards and the Panthers had a total of just 38 on the ground.
Jake Delhomme struggled to find time to pass, often throwing his hands up in disgust after hurrying a pass and angrily glaring at the sideline after several knockdowns. The lone bright spot came on Delhomme's 30-yard touchdown pass to Muhsin Muhammad that cut the score to 24-14 with 4 minutes 46 seconds to play.
But that came one play after star wide receiver Steve Smith broke his left leg. Smith, who signed a $27.5 million contract extension during the offseason, dropped writhing to the ground when he was tackled after a short catch, and had to be helped off the field.
Carolina was also done in by its own mistakes. Two turnovers led to 14 of Green Bay's points.