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CAROLINA 23, NEW ORLEANS 20 (OT)

Panthers Win, Even-Stephen

October 27, 2003|From Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS — As Stephen Davis goes, so go the Carolina Panthers. And, was Davis going on Sunday.

Davis, who was held to 20 yards in 11 carries in the Panthers' loss to Tennessee last week, was back in form Sunday. He rushed for 178 yards and two touchdowns as Carolina beat the New Orleans Saints, 23-20, in overtime.

"We gave them a heavy dose of Stephen," said Carolina Coach John Fox. "He started fast and finished fast."

Davis has rushed for more than 100 yards five times this season, including 159 in Carolina's first game against the Saints. His teams are 19-4 when he breaks 100.

Davis had a 34-yard run in overtime Sunday to set up John Kasay's 31-yard field goal for the victory that kept the Panthers atop the NFC South.

"He is a great running back and he had a few long runs today," Saint Coach Jim Haslett said. "They do a great job in the running game, and that is the thing you have to stop."

The Panthers (6-1), who have led the division since the opening week, rallied in the closing minutes -- only to see the Saints come back to force overtime.

"Things were not going our way," Carolina quarterback Jake Delhomme said. "I couldn't get a rhythm, but we could run."

Carolina staged a 58-yard drive, fueled by two pass interference calls and capped by Davis' second touchdown, a 1-yard dive that put Carolina up 20-17 with 3:45 left.

The Saints (3-5) tied it on a 42-yard field goal by John Carney with 36 seconds to go.

New Orleans won the coin toss in overtime and drove to the Carolina 37 before Deuce McAllister fumbled on fourth-and-1. Then Carolina went 50 yards, with Davis breaking free for 33, and Kasay made his third field goal of the game.

Carolina's loss last week to Tennessee ended a seven-game winning streak dating to last season. The Panthers' 10-1 record over the previous 11 games had been the NFL's best.

Former Saint quarterback Delhomme completed 12 of 27 passes for 148 yards for Carolina. Steve Smith had nine catches for 100 yards.

McAllister had 101 yards rushing for the Saints in 26 carries. Joe Horn had 74 receiving yards and two touchdowns.

It was a typical game for the Panthers and Saints, tight and with defense dominating. Five of the six games between the teams the last three seasons have been decided by a touchdown or less. It was the sixth consecutive meeting decided in the last two minutes or overtime.

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