Panthers not satisfied with victories

Updated: October 6, 2003, 3:54 PM ET

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Half of Carolina's defensive line sat slumped over in front of their lockers, staring at the stat sheet in disbelief.

The Panthers had given up 155 yards rushing and a touchdown, unacceptable by their standards.

Suddenly, winning isn't enough for the undefeated Panthers.

"We're a little disappointed we gave up some rushing yards -- that's not cool," defensive end Mike Rucker said. "I think each person needs to look at themselves and what they can do better. Then we have to clean up the things we did wrong so we're not exploited again."

Carolina came away with a 19-13 victory over the New Orleans Saints on Sunday to move to 4-0 for the first time in franchise history. But there was little celebrating among a defensive unit that's still trying to match its dominance from a year ago, when the Panthers ranked No. 2 in the NFL in total defense.

Instead, Rucker and fellow defensive end Julius Peppers wondered how they gave up 124 yards rushing to Deuce McAllister, the second back to surpass 100 yards against Carolina this season.

McAllister, who was fighting the flu and a stiff back Sunday, has run for more than 100 yards twice against Carolina.

"When you come into our place, we want everyone to know they need to buckle up their chin straps and we didn't do that," defensive tackle Kris Jenkins said. "That's why everybody has a long face."

For a team used to losing -- remember, Carolina set an NFL record with 15 consecutive losses two years ago -- victories should be cause for raucous celebration.

But the disappointment the defense was feeling was exactly what coach John Fox wanted to see.

"From my standpoint, in how your team reacts and the pride they build in their unit, I think that's a good thing," Fox said. "They feel like they are capable of better. We did enough good things to win, that is what you look for. But you strive for perfection and sometimes that is hard to obtain."

The Panthers were also bothered by their failure to register a sack for the first time in nine games, and for giving up a 21-yard touchdown pass from Aaron Brooks to Joe Horn -- the first TD Carolina has allowed since the season-opener.

"We want goose eggs," Jenkins said. "And we get mad when we don't get them."

There was also criticism from Horn, who praised the Panthers' defensive front four but didn't think very much of their secondary.

"When the defensive front is putting pressure on the quarterback, it makes your secondary look good," Horn said. "Personally, I don't think their secondary is that good. They're 4-0 right now, but they'll get exploited."

Horn's remarks didn't bother Carolina safety Deon Grant.

"He's a receiver and he scored, so it's fair for him to say that," Grant said. "We've just got to tighten up as a secondary and make sure we don't give anybody room to say that."

This story is from's automated news wire. Wire index