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3 things we learned about the Panthers

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Never before were the Carolina Panthers this good this deep into a season.

They are 6-0 and feeling as if things are going their way.

“You can doubt us all you want, we’re going to keep going,” fullback Mike Tolbert said. “We’re trying to stay on top of the division.”

Tolbert scored two touchdowns, and the Panthers defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 27-16 Sunday night to mark the best start in franchise history.

The Panthers, who played their first home game in nearly a month, are 6-0 for the first time. Their previous best season-opening winning streak lasted five games in 2003.

“We’ve still got a lot more games, a lot more games,” Carolina quarterback Cam Newton said.

The list of contributors keeps growing, with veteran defensive end Jared Allen making a big impact in his second game with the team since a trade from the Chicago Bears. He notched a sack and was a nuisance at times as the Eagles had to deal with a stout pass rush.

“It’s good in all the right ways,” Allen said. “We’ve got guys coming (from all angles). It’s just fun. Everybody is celebrating for everybody.”

The Eagles (3-4) had a two-game winning streak end. Trailing by eight late in the game, they punted with 7:07 remaining and then turned the ball over on downs with 1:56 left.

Philadelphia had 349 yards of total offense, but most of that total came in small slices.

“It’s nothing different for us,” said Panthers linebacker A.J. Klein, who missed the previous game as he was in the concussion protocol. “We’re just doing things the right way, and (it’s fitting) when the defense is on the field to end it.”

The Eagles stalled so often that they attempted four field goals.

“We all have to execute better,” said Philadelphia running back DeMarco Murray, who gained 65 yards on 18 carries. “We’ve just got to continue to get better. I thought we had a great game plan. We have to not hurt ourselves.”

What we learned about the Panthers:

1. The Panthers enjoy their status as overachievers, quickly pointing out that they know there are doubters despite their 6-0 record. They haven’t defeated a team that currently owns a winning record, which is one reason they probably are not given full-fledged respect. Even so, they are anxious to prove themselves some more. “What’s better than 6-0?” quarterback Cam Newton asked, before answering, “7-0.”

2. The Panthers sure can use defensive end Jared Allen, the NFL’s active career leader in sacks. Even on a defense that is considered solid, Allen’s presence gives another threat for a pass rush. He demonstrated that he still has the technique and power to produce by notching a late-game sack against Philadelphia. He likes his new environment since arriving in a trade from the Chicago Bears. “Everyone is holding each other accountable,” he said. “At the same time, there’s never any panic, at least from what I’ve seen so far.”

3. The energy level for linebacker Thomas Davis remains high in his 11th season. He made several thundering hits against the Eagles, demonstrating clearly that he is a team leader even if others receive more regular attention. Davis had a game-high 13 tackles in the Philadelphia game.

Etc.

–LB Luke Kuechly made his first appearance in a home game this season. He missed three games after sustaining a concussion in the opener at Jacksonville. He played last week at Seattle before his home debut, when he made 11 tackles against Philadelphia.

–DT Kawann Short received weekly NFL recognition for his efforts against Seattle, and he must have enjoyed the attention because he was active again in the game against Philadelphia. He was credited with three of Carolina’s five sacks.

–DE Mario Addison left the game against Philadelphia in the third quarter with a shoulder injury. He was particularly active in pursuing Eagles QB Sam Bradford, logging one sack. His status was uncertain after the game, but the injury wasn’t believed to be a long-term problem.


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