Panthers D dominates Jets

It was much closer than the final score would indicate, but the Panthers 30-3 drubbing of the New York Jets Sunday afternoon indicated that the Panthers defense can put teams away in a hurry. "It was a real struggle the first half," Panthers Head Coach John Fox said. "It was a defensive battle on both sides. I thought the Jets fought valiantly and the second half was a story of turnovers. As in most games, that was the difference in the game."

Going into the fourth quarter, it was a relatively close game, with the score being 10-3 in favor of the Panthers. Then, the bloodletting began.

"I can't remember one (game) in all the games I have been a part of, but those guys stepping up in the backfield and getting those picks was huge," said Defensive End Julius Peppers, who had 1.5 sacks against the Jets. "It just shows what kind of big play potential and quick strike ability we have on the defensive side of the ball."

The Jets surrendered possession of the ball 5 times in a 17 minute span late in the second half. There were only two drives in the second half that didn't end in a Jets turnover. One was a punt, the other was the last series in the game where they turned it over on downs.

"I've been around for 12 years, and there aren't too many things I haven't been a part of, but that was the best effort turnover-wise since I've been here," Defensive Tackle Brentson Buckner said after the game. "For a while there, it was one and out, and no special teams. Ricky Manning, Jr. causing that fumble. We call that defense. That's the kind of defense you want to be, where you've got two corners out there and they can't throw to either side. And then you have linebackers that take the ball to the house. And (Mike Rucker) rushing the passer the way he does, it's a complete effort."

The Panthers intercepted 4 passes, one of them returned for a touchdown by linebacker Will Witherspoon. The other three were product of Carolina's starting corners, Ken Lucas and Chris Gamble.

"They had been giving us that route and they just happened to finally give it to us in coverage where I had a chance to play down on it," said Witherspoon, who had his first career interception for a touchdown. "He threw the ball and I knew I could make the play. There it was in my hands and nothing but green grass was ahead of me. I had to go ahead and take it to the house. It felt great to finally have that happen."

"Just watching these guys make play after play, It's just a great sight," said Panthers FS Mike Minter. "The defense was all over the field, from the defensive line to the linebackers to the secondary. We played a solid and complete football game."

The Panthers are confident, but they are quick to admit that they can't let overconfidence creep into their heads.

"We've won six in a row, so I'd say they are probably confident, but we could go out and stumble next week and we'll be the worst team on the planet again," said Fox. "We've got to get ready for Chicago."

"Don't read the papers," said Witherspoon. "We don't listen to what people are saying. Only the guys inside this locker room know what is going on and what we need to get better at. Don't believe the speculation or the hype. Move on and let's be who we are."

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