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Thursday game a Giant step up for Panthers
Carolina aims to take down NFC power
Published Wednesday, September 19, 2012 3:12 pm
by Herbert L. White

The Carolina Panthers don’t have much time to bask in their first win.

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton looks to fire a pass while eluding New Orleans defensive end Will Smith in the Panthers’ 35-27 win Sunday at Bank of America Stadium.

After dispatching New Orleans 35-27 on Sunday, the Panthers take on the New York Giants on Thursday. A short week means little time for reflection.

“We ain’t celebrating at all, really,” said defensive end Charles Johnson, who forced New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees into a pass that safety Charles Godfrey turned into a 9-yard interception return that tied the game at 7-7. “We’re on a mission, we’ve got a Thursday night game and we’re looking forward to that.”

Carolina (1-1) is especially pumped after laying an egg against Tampa Bay in the season opener. A loss to New Orleans would have dropped the Panthers to 0-2 in the NFC South.

(Starting) 0-2 in the division is hard to come back from,” fullback Mike Tolbert said. “I’ve been there with San Diego, so it’s not something you look forward to. Being able to come out here and get this win and get one up on the Saints is good for us.”

Said Johnson: “We felt like it was a do or die situation. That’s how we’re going to feel every game. When you put our backs against the wall, we want to win. It’s a big time sense of urgency.”

Carolina’s defense turned in another solid game, harassing Brees and limiting big plays to New Orleans’ potent offense. Although Brees hit 30-of-47 passes, the Panthers made him work for everything.

“We just got after him,” Godfrey said. “The (defensive) line did a great job and on the back end we stayed in played our coverage and latched on. I give a lot of credit to the d-line for getting him off his spot.”

Next up is another elite quarterback in the Giants’ Eli Manning, who threw for a career-best 510 yards in a 41-34 win against Tampa Bay on Sunday. The Panthers know there’s work still to be done.

 “We have a long way to go,” Godfrey said. “There are a lot of plays out there we need to correct. I don’t think we’re there. We have a lot of corrections to do and we’ll make those.”

Tolbert believes the Panthers have the talent and attitude to rise among the NFC’s elite. Thursday is another opportunity.

“We’re built for a run,” he said. “We’re built for a championship. We’ve got to have the attitude we can make it happen. We can’t stop ourselves. We have to make every play count.”

Even with a three-day turnaround.

“Everybody has to do it, so why not us?” Johnson asked. “We’ll be ready for the challenge.”


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