Carolina handed New York its second consecutive exhibition loss Friday night at Giants Stadium. "Offensively we played better," Head Coach Jim Fassel said. "The protection still broke down, and that hurt us a little bit. We improved on our play from last week - no question about it." One offensive highlight came when Kerry Collins and Amani Toomer hooked up on a 36-yard reception. That set up Mike Hollis' 34-yard field goal.
"We definitely improved tonight from our play last week," Collins said. "Obviously we still have some rough spots, but overall it was a much better performance."
Tiki Barber rushed for 61 yards on 15 carries and Collins completed 11-of-19 tosses for 127 yards, but New York's first offense, which played the first half, still trailed Carolina, 13-10, heading into halftime.
The Panthers defense equaled New York in TDs. Collins was sacked by LB Will Witherspoon. The ball popped into the air and was gathered in by Mike Minter, who returned it 43 yards for a touchdown. Witherspoon easily beat Marcellus Rivers' weak block attempt en route to sacking Collins.
Rivers made up for his phantom block moments later when he hauled in a 21-yard pass from Collins. That preceded Collins' two-yard TD toss to FB Jim Finn shortly before halftime. It took New York almost six quarters, but they finally got into the end zone.
"The defense played pretty well, especially in the red zone area," Fassel said.
But both units sure left some room for improvement next week against the Jets.
* Jeremy Shockey left the game early in the second quarter after taking a shot to the ribs and did not return.
* Panthers RB Rod Smart - "He Hate Me" of XFL fame - scored a third-quarter TD.