DETROIT Detroit Lions safety Kenoy Kennedy said he would do it again. Only next time, Kennedy might try to time his hit a little better.
I play football. That s what I do. That s what got me here. I am an aggressive guy, Kennedy said.
Kennedy s vicious tackle forced Carolina Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme from yesterday s game in the fourth quarter of Detroit s 21-20 loss at Ford Field.
Kennedy s helmet appeared to miss connecting with Delhomme s helmet at the end of Delhomme s five-yard scramble, but it resulted in a 15-yard personal foul penalty, giving Carolina a first down at the Lions 48 with 2:56 to play.
Backup quarterback Chris Weinke led Carolina s winning drive, tossing a three-yard touchdown pass to Ricky Proehl with 36 seconds left.
Detroit coach Steve Mariucci didn t agree with the penalty.
I didn t think it was a helmet-to-helmet [tackle], Mariucci said. I think he got him in the shoulder. That gave them 15 yards on that last drive.
Said linebacker Earl Holmes: It was totally legal to me.
Kennedy, however, wasn t so sure.
I think I took off before he started to slide but once I go back and watch it on film I really don t know.
For Kennedy, it turned out to be a disappointing day that had opened with such promise.
In the second quarter, Kennedy intercepted a Delhomme pass and ran it back 64 yards for a touchdown and a 14-14 tie. It was his first career touchdown.
He finished the game with a team-high 12 tackles and also forced a fumble in his best game with the Lions.
I guess that s bittersweet, he said. You feel good about the way you perform but you don t feel good about getting the loss.
TOUGH GAME: Both teams lost key players to injuries. For the Lions, running back Kevin Jones hurt his rotator cuff in the first half but he returned to the lineup after halftime. Offensive tackle Jeff Backus suffered a sprained ankle. In addition to Delhomme, who was shaken up by Kennedy s tackle, Carolina lost linebacker Dan Morgan with a shoulder injury. Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers injured his hand but returned to play after a cast was put on.
THIS AND THAT: For the second week in a row, Holmes forced a fumble. Safety Terrence Holt recovered the fumble and returned it 38 yards in the first quarter. ... When Detroit s Jason Hanson booted a 52-yard field goal with 40 seconds left in the third quarter, it was his 26th career field goal of 50 yards or more. He is third on the NFL s all-time list of 50-yards-plus field goals. ... Lions defensive tackle Shaun Rogers blocked field goal in the second quarter was the eighth blocked kick of his career. He has blocked seven field goal attempts and one extra point. ... Joey Harrington s 86-yard pass to tight end Marcus Pollard was a career-long for both players. It was the Lions longest pass play since Charlie Batch hit Johnnie Morton for a 98-yard touchdown at Chicago on Oct. 4, 1998.