Kerry Collins looked better Saturday night. John Kasay looked the same. In both cases, that was good news for the Carolina Panthers.
The Panthers switched to a West Coast-style passing game after Collins had the NFL's lowest quarterback rating and highest interception total last season, and the new look helped Collins put up some solid numbers in Carolina's 30-27 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The victory was not sealed until Kasay, who kicked 59 field goals over the past two seasons, hit his fifth in as many attempts Saturday night, a 30-yarder with four seconds left. Kasay had to wait while holder Ken Walter gathered a snap that rolled back to him, but the line-drive kick went through the middle of the uprights.
Collins was 16-of-22 for 162 yards and was not intercepted. His lone touchdown pass, a 3-yard toss to Muhsin Muhammad, helped the Panthers to a 19-10 halftime lead.
But as efficient as Collins was, the Panthers still had problems putting the ball in the end zone. Carolina had to settle for first-half field goals of 38, 24, 27 and 29 yards.
Jamie Martin, Jacksonville's third-string quarterback, directed two second-half scoring drives that gave the Jaguars a 20-19 lead with 12:14 left in the game.
After Carolina responded with a 79-yard scoring drive capped by Tshimanga Biakabutuka's 1-yard run, the Jaguars tied it on fourth-string quarterback Jonathan Quinn's 36-yard scoring pass to Alvis Whitted with 1:51 remaining.
It was the Panthers' first exhibition victory since 1996, the year they won the NFC West and advanced to the NFC championship game. Carolina went 0-4 last preseason, setting the stage for a 7-9 regular season that kept them out of the playoffs.
Jacksonville had some early success rushing against a Carolina defense that was substantially revamped in the off-season after the Panthers finished 22nd in the NFL against the run in 1997.
The Jaguars' starters averaged 5.2 yards per rush. All of that came from James Stewart, who had 31 yards on six carries before giving way to several younger players who are trying to unseat him.
The most prominent member of that group, first-round draft choice Fred Taylor, wound up with 38 yards on 10 carries. Against Carolinas starters, however, Taylor was held to 20 yards on seven rushes.
While Collins got a good workout by playing nearly the entire first half, Jacksonville starter Mark Brunell was hardly on the field long enough to break a good sweat. Brunell completed two of three passes, including a 13-yard touchdown strike to Keenan McCardell, before calling it a night after the Jaguars' first two possessions.
Outside linebacker Greg Lloyd, one of several big-name players the Panthers acquired in the off-season in an attempt to shore up their defense, had three first-half tackles, including a sack.
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