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Panthers win first in nearly a year

©Associated Press
September 9, 2002

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Players mobbed each other in a pile, new coach John Fox jumped into the arms of his assistants and the Panthers celebrated their first victory in 364 days.

Carolina turned to its veterans for scoring and to its youth to save the game Sunday, beating Baltimore 10-7 to snap a 15-game losing streak and give Fox a win in his head coaching debut.

It made for a jubilant celebration for a team and town that seemingly had accepted losing. The Panthers set an NFL record by dropping their final 15 games last season.

"I'm going to enjoy it, this team is going to enjoy it, I hope the whole town enjoys it," said Wesley Walls, who caught a 20-yard touchdown from Rodney Peete.

"It just feels so incredible to finally win again and to finish a game and just put an end to all this misery."

The Ravens, two years removed from winning the Super Bowl, felt little shame in losing to Carolina.

"Carolina's record last year was just that: last year," coach Brian Billick said. "I don't know how good Carolina is right now, but they are one of the teams that are going to be 1-0 at the end of the day."

John Kasay, the only original Panther on the roster, kicked a 27-yard field goal, and Walls, a member of Carolina's 1996 team that went to the NFC Championship Game, caught Carolina's only touchdown as all the scoring came in the first half.

So the Panthers had to sweat it out after Kasay missed a 50-yard field goal with two minutes left, enough time and a short enough field for the Ravens to pull it out.

But Chris Redman, making his first career start for the Ravens, had his third-down pass batted by Julius Peppers, the second overall pick in the draft.

The ball landed in the hands of Dan Morgan for an interception. Morgan, Carolina's first-round pick from Miami a year ago, raced 22 yards to preserve the win.

"I didn't feel any pressure to make something happen today," said Peppers, who assisted on one tackle. "I just relaxed and sat back and waited for my time to make a play. It just happened to come on the last play of the game."

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