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Panthers Win Third in a Row : Interconference: Carolina's 20-17 victory sets NFL record for expansion team, with New England the latest victim.

October 30, 1995|From Associated Press

FOXBORO, Mass. — The Carolina Panthers were playing for respect and a line in the NFL record book Sunday. They got both.

They became the first expansion team to win three games in a row, defeating the New England Patriots, 20-17, on John Kasay's 29-yard field goal at 7:08 of overtime.

It was a much different result than the 56-7 prediction in that morning's newspaper that inspired the Panthers.

"Our players were discussing it in the locker room before the game. I don't think our defense felt real good about that," Panther Coach Dom Capers said. "The more you play well, the more respect you get."

The prediction "really got us fired up," Carolina linebacker Lamar Lathon said.

Add that to the incentive of becoming the first expansionists to win three in a row, and the Panthers (3-5) had plenty of motivation.

"That was kind of our little rallying cry, that we were going to make history," said rookie Kerry Collins, who completed 25 of 45 passes for 309 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.

The Patriots (2-6) aren't going down in history. They're just going down.

They failed to build on last Monday night's 27-14 victory over Buffalo that ended a five-game losing streak and need a speedy turnaround with eight games left to salvage their season.

"We've got to win pretty much the rest of them and that's a hard thing to do," quarterback Drew Bledsoe said. "Coming into the season, this football team had some expectations and now, to be 2-6, it is a little bit of a shock."

The Panthers tied the NFL record, matched this year by Jacksonville, of three wins as an expansion team. They got their first road victory Sunday against their third consecutive struggling opponent after beating the New York Jets and New Orleans.

"We picked ourselves up off the ground at 0-5 and won three in a row," Capers said. "To me, it's not what you accomplish, but where you come from to accomplish it."

The Panthers, who used excellent defense to beat the Jets and Saints, played their most complete game of the year. They gained a franchise-record 434 yards after averaging only 261 yards per game before Sunday.

"All week all I heard was 'a team like this,' meaning Carolina, but a team like that just kicked our butt," New England's Vincent Brown said. "So what does it say for us? What kind of team are we?"

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