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Panthers claw way to victory

Associated Press
Published November 28, 2005


ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. - Carolina's stout defense allowed quarterback Jake Delhomme time to show the Panthers can win without Steve Smith leading the way.

With Smith blanketed all game, Delhomme hit third-string tight end Michael Gaines for a 3-yard touchdown, lifting the NFC South leaders.

The score came with 2:16 left and capped a 14-play, 68-yard drive in which Smith was a nonfactor. Smith, the league's leading receiver this season, finished with three catches for 55 yards.

"They rolled to Smitty a good bit and we had to be patient," Delhomme said. "Just take what they give you."

Carolina registered four sacks and sealed the win when Chris Gamble intercepted J.P. Losman, ending the Bills' last-gasp drive.

"We came straight at them like we always do," Panthers safety Mike Minter said. "We stopped them with seven guys in the box. When you can do that as a defense, you're playing well."

The Panthers limited Buffalo to 216 yards offense, the sixth straight opponent they've held under 300. They also have 23 sacks in their past six games.

The Bills squandered two three-point leads and settled for Rian Lindell field goals after each of three trips inside the Panthers 20.

NOTABLE: Bills guard Mike Williams left with a back injury in the second quarter.