Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Panthers Purring on Way to Playoffs

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Panthers Purring on Way to Playoffs

Article excerpt

The unthinkable now appears likely.

The second-year Carolina Panthers kept their inside track on a National Football Conference playoff berth after dispatching the Rams 20-10 Sunday. Carolina is 7-4 this season with games left at Houston and San Francisco and with Tampa Bay, Baltimore and Pittsburgh at home.

A couple of more victories - which should be no trick against the hapless Buccaneers and Ravens - and the Panthers will reach the postseason. "I thought our team took another step up the ladder," Panthers coach Dom Capers said. "We've played very well at home; we haven't played as well on the road." Carolina is 5-0 at home and 2-4 on the road, numbers that keep the Panthers on pace for a wild-card berth. "We're aware of that," linebacker Sam Mills said. "We don't talk about those things, but it's obvious those things are there. We do a good job focusing on the game at hand. If you don't take care of the business in front of you, you won't have that chance later." Fellow linebacker Lamar Lathon was trying to contain his excitement about the standings. "We still have five games left," he said. "That means we could still be 7-9." The Panthers being in contention shouldn't rank as a stunner on par with aerial cattle mutilations or Elvis spottings at the Quick Trip. This is a sound football team. It didn't have to go back to the drawing board after falling behind the Rams 10-3. The Panthers simply returned to their dressing room at halftime, reminded each other how critical this game was and talked about having another great second half. "We didn't change much," receiver Willie Green said. "We stuck to our game plan. We changed our attitude, if anything." How so? "We were feeling our way through from the aspect of offense in the first half," Panthers tight end Wesley Walls said. …

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