Panther Insider Player Notes

Running back Stephen Davis set a new career single-season rushing record with a 15-yard run in the second quarter of Sunday's game against the New York Giants. Davis broke his previous record of 1,432 yards set in 2001 when he played for the Washington Redskins.

--The Carolina Panthers will spend extra time this week on special teams after having two punts blocked on Sunday, resulting in a pair of New York Giants touchdowns.

It was the first time in his career Pro Bowl punter Todd Sauerbrun had two punts blocked in the same game. Ironically, both came by the same player, Giants reserve defensive end Osi Umenyiora.

"That No. 72, he's a beast, I tell you," Sauerbrun said. "He just smacked our guy -- I don't even know who it was -- and ran through clean every time." Both blocked punts came deep in Carolina territory and led to Giants touchdowns on the very next play.

The first came in the second quarter and the Giants recovered the ball at the Carolina 7. On the next play, Jesse Palmer hooked up with Amani Toomer on a touchdown. Umenyiora's second block came in the third quarter and gave the Giants the ball at the 2-yard line. Palmer quickly cashed in with a touchdown pass to Visanthe Shiancoe.

Sauerbrun said he isn't worried about the blocked punts becoming a reoccurring problem in the playoffs.

"It will be fixed by next week," Sauerbrun said. "(Special teams coach) Scott O'Brien is so good. He knows what he's doing and there's nobody better in this business. Hey, we screwed up today and we'll get if fixed."

--Panthers kicker John Kasay is now 7-for-7 on field goal attempts since missing three big ones in a key game last month against the Philadelphia Eagles. Kasay hit on field goals of 42, 33 and 34 yards in the first half.

--Running back Stephen Davis set a new career single-season rushing record with a 15-yard run in the second quarter of Sunday's game against the New York Giants. Davis broke his previous record of 1,432 yards set in 2001 when he played for the Washington Redskins.

"Every time you go out and do better than you did in the past, it's a special feeling," said Davis, who finished the season with 1,444 yards. Davis played only the first half of Sunday's game and said his ankle held up fine. "The ankle held up great," Davis said. "I had some goods runs in there and now I'm ready for the postseason."

--Steve Smith' 53-yard punt return for a touchdown on Sunday was the fourth of his career and his first since returning punts of 87 and 61 yards for scores last season against the Cincinnati Bengals on Dec. 8, 2002.

--The Panthers caught a break early on when officials ruled that running back Nick Goings' knee hit the ground, nullifying Omar Stoutmire's 40-yard fumble return for a touchdown.

The Giants couldn't challenge the play because officials whistled the play dead when Goings' knee hit the ground. Replays showed the ball came out before Goings' knee hit the ground.

--The Panthers topped their season-high scoring output in the first half alone with 30 points. Carolina's previous best was a 27-point outing against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers earlier this season.

--Perhaps the most encouraging news for the Panthers on Sunday was the play of running back Stephen Davis, who rushed for 57 yards on 11 carries in the first half before getting the rest of the night off. When Davis did play, he showed good balance and explosiveness in hitting the hole. "He's ready to roll," head coach John Fox said.

--Panthers free safety Deon Grant is excited about a rematch against his off-season pal, Cowboys quarterback Quincy Carter. After Carolina's 24-20 loss to the Cowboys in Dallas, Grant said he desperately wanted another shot at the Cowboys.

"Quincy knows I'm coming for him," Grant said. "He knows that. They embarrassed us the first time when we went to Dallas. Now it's time for us to pay them back and excel in the playoffs."

BY THE NUMBERS: 1 -- Number of playoff games won by the Carolina Panthers in franchise history.

1 -- Number of playoff games won by the Carolina Panthers over the Dallas Cowboys in franchise history.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We get the opportunity to redeem ourselves and you don't get that in your lifetime too many times. We get that opportunity. And we are definitely going to take that opportunity. That is something we want. That is something we are looking forward to and hopefully when we come out we will be fired up and ready to go. They are coming to our house this time so hopefully the outcome will be different." -- Panthers SS Mike Minter on the rematch with the Cowboys, whom the Panthers lost to 24-20 in November


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