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Panthers Take Win Any Which Way

September 16, 2002|From Associated Press

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Carolina Panthers don't care how bad the Detroit Lions might be. The Panthers will take as many victories as they can get.

Sunday's game between last season's two worst NFL teams was one-sided, with Carolina looking like a good team in a 31-7 victory.

"People will have a tendency to say, 'That's just the Detroit Lions, who cares if you beat them?' " receiver Muhsin Muhammad said. "But what if you lose to a team like that? It doesn't matter who you beat or how you beat them, all wins are important."

Rodney Peete passed for 310 yards and a touchdown, Lamar Smith ran for two scores, Mike Minter returned an interception 40 yards for a touchdown, and No. 1 draft pick Julius Peppers lived up to his billing with three sacks and a forced fumble.

The Panthers are off to a 2-0 start for the first time since 1996, having doubled their win total from last season when they lost their final 15 games.

"People try to slight who you play and how you play, but winning breeds confidence and we're a lot more confident now than we were two weeks ago," Coach John Fox said. "And it can't really get any better than 2-0."

The Lions (0-2) suffered their 10th consecutive road loss and showed signs of being just as bad as they were last season when they were 2-14 and didn't get their first win until Week 13.

Lion Coach Marty Mornhinweg took no questions after the game, instead uttering only a short statement before storming off.

"Our offense was horrible," he said. "We had trouble completing basic passes. Stayed close at halftime and then did absolutely nothing. We've got a lot of work to do."

Peete completed 21 of 32 passes, including eight to Muhammad for 107 yards and a touchdown--a 22-yard play just before halftime. Peete, 36, was making only his 14th start over the last seven years. This is his 12th NFL season.

"I thought Rodney played great and it speaks volumes that he's still got it," Muhammad said.

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