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Panthers Sweet at Home

NFC: Carolina opens Ericsson Stadium with impressive 29-6 victory over Atlanta.

September 02, 1996|From Associated Press

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Carolina Panthers held a coming-out party Sunday for their new stadium. The Atlanta Falcons brought their defense as a gift.

Kerry Collins threw for 198 yards and two touchdowns, and John Kasay added five field goals as the Panthers opened Ericsson Stadium with a 29-6 victory--the highest-scoring day in the franchise's 17-game history.

"We were sharp, we were methodical, we were crisp," Collins said. "We wanted to start it off with a win, and this is a good win."

Collins, the NFL's 29th-rated quarterback as a rookie last season, was solid if unspectacular Sunday, completing 17 of 31 passes. But that was good enough against a Falcon unit that was the worst in the league in 1995 defending the pass and ranked 29th in overall defense.

"This is probably as good a team win as we've had," Carolina Coach Dom Capers said, "because I think our offense was efficient and our defense kept the Falcons out of the end zone."

Atlanta Coach June Jones was visibly upset after watching the Falcons give up 315 yards.

"Nobody did their jobs well enough," fumed Jones, whose team lost for the second time in three games against its NFC West rival.

Kasay kicked field goals from 32, 36, 53, 38 and 42 yards and Carolina used almost constant blitzing to derail Jeff George and the NFL's only run-and-shoot offense.

The Panthers sacked George seven times and frequently flushed him from the pocket. Lamar Lathon led the Panthers with three sacks and Kevin Greene had two.

"Lamar Lathon and Kevin Greene were in my face all day," George said. "We all had a rough day. You move forward. You don't take it personally."

The Panthers, who played their first-year home games in Clemson, S.C., sold all 72,685 tickets for their inaugural regular-season contest in Ericsson Stadium.

"The crowd noise was definitely a factor," said George, who completed 16 of 35 passes for 215 yards. "We had problems hearing the counts."

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