Panthers stop Ravens to end losing streak

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

Is Carolina that improved or are the Ravens really bad?
Both teams are poor, but it was good to see Panthers QB Rodney Peete do what he needed to do to be successful -- that is, don't force the ball downfield, use the tight end and work the running game. It's important to win the games you should win. As for the Ravens, they've seen a mass exodus of quality players since their Super Bowl championship less than two years ago. The salary cap can be tough long-term when a team wants to win here and now but has no plan for the future.

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

The Panthers turned to their veterans for scoring and to their
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

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

"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
TD pass 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, the worst team in the league
last season.

"Carolina's record last year was just that -- last year,'' said
coach Brian Billick. "I don't know how good Carolina is right now,
but they are one of 16 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 pass as all the scoring came in the first half.

So the Panthers had to sweat this one out after Kasay missed a
50-yard field goal with 2:00 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 away by Julius Peppers, the second
overall pick in the NFL draft.

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

"I didn't feel any pressure to make something happen today,''
said Peppers, who assisted on just 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.''

As the players celebrated in a heap near the end zone, Fox
sprinted down the sidelines leaping into the air and pumping his
fists, while defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio joined the pile of

And the home crowd, so apathetic at times, cheered long and loud
to salute the energy and effort that Fox has installed in this

"I really like this team, they've worked really hard to come
from a team that was in disarray when I got here,'' said Fox, hired
in January to replace George Seifert.

"I'm not making any predictions except that I like this bunch
and they worked hard today to end the losing.''

The Panthers were conservative in breaking their streak, even
though Fox gambled by benching struggling quarterback Chris Weinke
in favor of the 36-year-old Peete.

His reason was simple: The rebuilding Ravens were an easy target
and Peete -- who last started a game in 1998 -- gave Carolina a
better chance to win.

In a blue-collar game plan, Peete went 12-for-19 for 136 yards,
spending most of the game handing off to Lamar Smith, who ran for
84 yards against a Baltimore defense that ranked second in stopping
the run last season.

Peete, who had not attempted a pass in two seasons, said he
quickly got back into the flow of things.

"I felt like a kid in a candy store,'' Peete said. "After the
first series, I got into a routine and I did not feel rusty at

The Ravens, in a salary-cap-related rebuilding mode, had little
to work with offensively.

Redman, a third-year pro, went 20-for-34 for 218 yards and an
8-yard touchdown pass to Ron Johnson on Baltimore's second

But that was all the Ravens could muster as they stalled out
time and time again in the second half.

"If you look around the league, I think there are five teams
that are more veteran and have the sharpness and crispness,''
Billick said. "Those are things that are team will have four or
five weeks from now.''

Game notes
Carolina's victory was the first at Ericsson Stadium
since Dec. 17, 2000. ... Baltimore receiver Brandon Stokley set
career-highs with six catches for 83 yards. ... Running back Jamal
Lewis, who missed all of last season for the Ravens with a knee
injury, marked his return with 64 yards on 17 carries. ... The
Panthers ran for 145 yards -- they didn't eclipse the 100-yard mark
until their sixth game of last season. ... Carolina's defense held
Baltimore to 77 yards on the ground, the first time in nine games
it had held an opponent under 100 yards.