Monday, October 6, 2003
Panthers not satisfied with victories
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Half of Carolina's defensive line sat
slumped over in front of their lockers, staring at the stat sheet
The Panthers had given up 155 yards rushing and a touchdown,
unacceptable by their standards.
Suddenly, winning isn't enough for the undefeated Panthers.
"We're a little disappointed we gave up some rushing yards --
that's not cool," defensive end Mike Rucker said. "I think each
person needs to look at themselves and what they can do better.
Then we have to clean up the things we did wrong so we're not
Carolina came away with a 19-13 victory over the New Orleans
Saints on Sunday to move to 4-0 for the first time in franchise
history. But there was little celebrating among a defensive unit
that's still trying to match its dominance from a year ago, when
the Panthers ranked No. 2 in the NFL in total defense.
Instead, Rucker and fellow defensive end Julius Peppers wondered
how they gave up 124 yards rushing to Deuce McAllister, the second
back to surpass 100 yards against Carolina this season.
McAllister, who was fighting the flu and a stiff back Sunday,
has run for more than 100 yards twice against Carolina.
"When you come into our place, we want everyone to know they
need to buckle up their chin straps and we didn't do that,"
defensive tackle Kris Jenkins said. "That's why everybody has a
For a team used to losing -- remember, Carolina set an NFL record
with 15 consecutive losses two years ago -- victories should be
cause for raucous celebration.
But the disappointment the defense was feeling was exactly what
coach John Fox wanted to see.
"From my standpoint, in how your team reacts and the pride they
build in their unit, I think that's a good thing," Fox said.
"They feel like they are capable of better. We did enough good
things to win, that is what you look for. But you strive for
perfection and sometimes that is hard to obtain."
The Panthers were also bothered by their failure to register a
sack for the first time in nine games, and for giving up a 21-yard
touchdown pass from Aaron Brooks to Joe Horn -- the first TD
Carolina has allowed since the season-opener.
"We want goose eggs," Jenkins said. "And we get mad when we
don't get them."
There was also criticism from Horn, who praised the Panthers'
defensive front four but didn't think very much of their secondary.
"When the defensive front is putting pressure on the
quarterback, it makes your secondary look good," Horn said.
"Personally, I don't think their secondary is that good. They're
4-0 right now, but they'll get exploited."
Horn's remarks didn't bother Carolina safety Deon Grant.
"He's a receiver and he scored, so it's fair for him to say
that," Grant said. "We've just got to tighten up as a secondary
and make sure we don't give anybody room to say that."