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Panthers Nip Bills, Lose Collins


Even without its two starting defensive ends, the Carolina Panthers' defense was too much for the Buffalo Bills.

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  • managed just seven points against Carolina as the Panthers, behind John Kasay's four field goals, defeated the Bills 12-7 Friday in an exhibition game.

    Defensive lineman Sean Gilbert and Shawn King did not play due to injuries and the club's first-round pick, Jason Peter, is unsigned.

    Buffalo got down to the Carolina 1-yard line with 5:40 left in the game, but Bills fullback Jonathan Linton's fumble was recovered by Carolina's Spencer Reid in the back of the end zone.

    The Panthers had recovered Doug Flutie's fumble on the previous play, but it was called back after Dedrick Dodge was caught holding Flutie as the Buffalo backup quarterback was going for the ball.

    "Two fumbles back-to-back on the 1-foot line," said Carolina linebacker Kevin Greene. "That's good defense. I'm not so sure I would have understood not to hold the guy (Flutie). I've been in the league 14 years and I'm not so sure I wouldn't have done the same thing."

    Kasay connected on field goals of 20, 37, 46 and 49 yards and improved to 9-for-9 on field goals this exhibition season.

    "We have the utmost confidence in John and his ability," Panthers coach Dom Capers said. "I'm just happy we have him because I think he's right up there with the best in the league."

    Collins, the Panthers' fourth-year quarterback, was 12-of-23 for 138 yards before leaving the game wih an apparent broken nose just before halftime. Collins suffered a broken jaw last preseason and missed the first two regular season contests. He will have X-rays Saturday in Charlotte.

    "He's going to be alright," backup quarterback Steve Beuerlein said. "Thankfully, it's nothing nearly as significant as the injury last year."

    Kasay hit on field goals from 20 and 49 yards to give Carolina a 6-0 lead midway through the second quarter.

    Buffalo quarterback Rob Johnson connected with Quinn Early for a 40-yard gain with 2:31 remaining in the first half. Antowain Smith's 1-yard plunge gave the Bills a 7-6 advantage.

    "Both the Steelers and Carolina have tough defenses and these are two good early tests for us," said Johnson. "We just have to go back to work on Monday and get better."

    Johnson finished the game 6-of-11 for 122 yards and also added 27 yards on four rushes.

    "I think Rob was a little bit nervous in front of the home crowd," said Buffalo coach Wade Phillips. "He struggled early but he came back out of it and that was what was important. I'd like to see him get rid of the ball more."

    Carolina regained the lead with 6:21 left in the third quarter on Kasay's 46-yarder.

    Carolina (2-0) was without Gilbert (torn thumb ligament), King (torn right biceps), Lamar Lathon (knee) and Shane Matthews (shoulder).

    Andre Reed (sore tendons behind his knee), Bruce Smith (knee), Marlon Kerner (calf), and Alex Van Pelt (shoulder) did not see action for the Bills (0-2).

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