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CAROLINA 23, ATLANTA 3

Davis Runs Down Falcon Dominance

September 29, 2003|From Associated Press

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Rap music blasted from the showers and the Carolina Panthers danced their way through the locker room. There was no shame in celebrating a 3-0 start to the season.

Especially not after a 23-3 victory Sunday over Atlanta to end Carolina's losing streak to the Falcons at six games.

"This was real gratifying after six straight losses and them owning us," defensive end Brentson Buckner said. "Now we know we can beat them."

But Buckner was quick to caution his teammates not to celebrate too much -- Carolina started 3-0 last season and then went on an eight-game skid.

That's not likely to happen this year, not after a confidence-building win over Atlanta (1-3).

The Falcons have been the Panthers' No. 1 nemesis, winning nine of the last 10 matchups, including two humiliating losses last year by a combined score of 71-0. Stephen Davis ran for 153 yards and his first touchdown of the season to become the first back in franchise history to open the season with three consecutive 100-yard games.

"We knew they were going to run the ball -- I told everyone on the team that he was the best back I had seen on film this year," Atlanta linebacker Keith Brooking said. "They pounded us."

Davis, written off in Washington last season, now has 406 yards rushing in three games and has turned into the workhorse the Panthers had hoped for. He could have gone after Carolina's single-game franchise record of 168 yards, but sat out most of the fourth quarter after just 21 carries.

"I had a lot more in me," Davis said with a sly grin.

Davis reeled off a 29-yard run on Carolina's second possession to set up the Panthers' first rushing touchdown of the season. He scored on a one-yard run eight plays later to put Carolina up, 7-0.

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