Final

Lions 7

(0-2, 0-2 away)

Panthers 31

(2-0, 2-0 home)

Coverage: FOX

1:00 PM ET, September 15, 2002

 

1 2 3 4 T
DET 0 0 7 07
CAR 0 10 14 731

Panthers start 2-0 after going 1-15

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- The Carolina Panthers don't care how bad the Detroit Lions might be. The Panthers will take as many wins as they can get.

Allen's Analysis
Eric Allen
Question on the Lions: Can Mornhinweg last the season if Detroit doesn't turn this around soon?
I don't think so. The NFL is about winning. It doesn't matter what kind of endorsement you get; if the fans aren't happy and you aren't winning, there will be some serious problems. Somebody has to pay, and usually it's the coach.

Question on the Panthers: What's been the biggest reason for Carolina's fast start?
The quarterback play of Rodney Peete. He knows the system and has played well within it. The NFL has become familiar with the Trent Dilfer-type of quarterback, who avoids mistakes and doesn't win the game, but doesn't lose it either. Rodney does a good job at that. Plus, the Panthers have played some weaker teams (Ravens and Lions).

Eric Allen played 14 seasons in the NFL for the Eagles, Saints and Raiders.

The battle of the two worst teams in the NFL last year was a one-sided Carolina rout, with the Panthers looking like a very good football team in a 31-7 victory on Sunday.

"People will have a tendency to say 'That's just the Detroit Lions, who cares if you beat them?''' receiver Muhsin Muhammad said. "But what if you lose to a team like that? It doesn't matter who you beat or how you beat them, all wins are important.''

Rodney Peete passed for 310 yards and a touchdown, Lamar Smith ran for two scores, Mike Minter returned an interception 40 yards for a TD, and Julius Peppers lived up to his billing with three sacks and a forced fumble for Carolina.

The victory doubled the Panthers' win total from a year ago -- Carolina lost 15 straight to end the season -- and got them off to a 2-0 start for the first time since 1996.

"People try to slight who you play and how you play, but winning breeds confidence and we're a lot more confident now than we were two weeks ago,'' new coach John Fox said. "And it can't really get any better than 2-0.''

The Lions (0-2) dropped their 10th straight road game, a streak dating to last season, and showed signs of being just as bad as they were a year ago when Detroit went 2-14 and didn't win its first game until Week 13.

Lions coach Marty Mornhinweg took no questions after the game, instead uttering just a short statement before storming off.

"Our offense was horrible,'' he said. "We had trouble completing basic passes. Stayed close at halftime and then did absolutely nothing ... it's as simple as that, we've got a lot of work to do.''

It's still too early to judge just how bad the Lions might be or if Carolina is actually any good.

The only thing that's certain is the Panthers are definitely better this season than they were a year ago.

"Two wins does not make a season, but this is something that we can look at and know we can get better,'' said Peete, who went 21-of-32 for 310 yards, the most since he threw for 323 on Sept. 27, 1992, when he was a starter for the Lions.

He moved the ball around by throwing to eight different receivers, and wasn't afraid to go long or throw into double coverage. He tossed a 58-yard pass to Smith to set up one score and tested the Lions by drawing several pass interference calls.

He hit Muhammad eight times for 107 yards and hooked up with him on a 22-yard touchdown right before halftime.

"I thought Rodney played great and it speaks volumes that he's still got it,'' Muhammad said.

Smith ran for 56 yards and touchdowns of 3 yards and 1 yard, and also added three catches for 70 yards.

In all, Carolina's offense had 388 total yards and gave the Panthers enough of a cushion that quarterback Chris Weinke got some playing time late in the fourth quarter.

The Panthers' defense was also solid, with six sacks, while limiting the Lions to 122 total yards and constantly harassing the quarterback combination of Mike McMahon and Joey Harrington. Each was intercepted once.

Peppers, the second overall pick in the draft, got his first NFL sack early in the first quarter. He got another a few minutes later, and registered his third on the final play of the first half when he drilled McMahon from behind, knocking the ball loose and leaving McMahon motionless on the ground for several moments.

It reassured Carolina fans that the Panthers made the right choice in picking Peppers, who was taken right before the Lions selected Harrington.

"They can't go wrong in choosing me,'' Peppers said. "Everyone in this locker room and organization feels the same way.''

McMahon recovered from Peppers' pounding to start the second half, leading Detroit on its only scoring drive, then falling apart when Minter intercepted him on the second series and returned it 40-yards for a touchdown and a 24-7 lead.

Game notes


The Lions were penalized 11 times for 100 yards. ... Carolina has yet to turn the ball over this season. ... Detroit's Scotty Anderson was called for a personal foul in the first half for a crackback, which could draw a fine from the NFL. ... Peppers also had five tackles and a deflected pass. ... Shaun Rogers blocked John Kasay's 46-yard field-goal attempt in the first quarter. Kasay also missed a 40-yarder. ... Lions guard Kevin Blaise left in the first quarter with a sprained left knee.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Scoring Summary

THIRD QUARTERDETCAR
carTD6:40Touchdown
Drive info: 1 plays, 22 yds, 0:00
723
car6:40
Drive info: 1 plays, 22 yds, 0:00
724
SECOND QUARTERDETCAR
carFG4:19John Kasay 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 5 plays, 19 yds, 0:37
03
THIRD QUARTERDETCAR
carTD6:47Lamar Smith, 3 yd run
Drive info: 4 plays, 77 yds, 2:05
716
car6:44
Drive info: 4 plays, 77 yds, 2:05
717
SECOND QUARTERDETCAR
carTD0:22Touchdown
Drive info: 5 plays, 59 yds, 0:53
09
car0:22
Drive info: 5 plays, 59 yds, 0:53
010
THIRD QUARTERDETCAR
detTD8:55Mike McMahon, 11 yd run
Drive info: 5 plays, 76 yds, 2:36
610
det8:55
Drive info: 5 plays, 76 yds, 2:36
710
FOURTH QUARTERDETCAR
carTD9:47Lamar Smith, 1 yd run
Drive info: 10 plays, 71 yds, 15:00
730
car9:47
Drive info: 10 plays, 71 yds, 15:00
731