Fox apologizes to Jets for remarks of Panthers' CB
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- John Fox apologized Monday to New York coach Herman Edwards for comments Carolina cornerback Ken Lucas made about the Jets quitting during the Panthers' 30-3 victory.
Fox, who keeps his team buttoned-up and frowns on bravado, also lectured the NFC South-leading Panthers about the consequences of trash talking.
"John's on the phone with me for 20 minutes trying to explain what [Lucas] was trying to say," Edwards said. "I believe Foxy and I believe the kid. John didn't have to call me, and he called me to let me know, 'Coach he knows better than that. This is what he was trying to say.'
"He addressed his team, too, about it."
Lucas, who had back-to-back game-changing interceptions on Sunday, said the Jets "kind of gave up after that because they felt they couldn't score."
"You thought, at the end of the game, that they would at least try to throw the ball for the end zone, but they just ran the ball and ran the clock out," Lucas added. "It's good when you can make a team quit on you. That says a lot."
The Panthers were clinging to a 10-3 lead in the third quarter when Brooks Bollinger moved the Jets to the Carolina 24. Laveranues Coles blew past Lucas and was open in the end zone, but Bollinger's pass was underthrown and Lucas had enough time to catch up and jump in front of it for an interception.
That interception preveted the Jets from tying the game. Then Lucas had his second pick on New York's next possession and Carolina turned it into a touchdown that broke the game open.
The Jets did continue to throw after Lucas' picks, but after linebacker Will Witherspoon returned Bollinger's fourth interception for a touchdown, they ran the ball on nine of their final 10 plays.
Fox made no mention of his call to Edwards during his Monday news conference, and said he understood Lucas' comments to be about New York running out the clock.
Later Monday, he said that Lucas regretted making the remark and it was something he addressed with the team. Also at issue were comments by Witherspoon, who predicted the surging Panthers would beat the Atlanta Falcons later this season.
Fox chalked up Witherspoon's bravado as excitement after the game, which was Carolina's sixth-consecutive win and kept it tied with Seattle for the best record in the NFC.
In his lecture to the team, Fox stressed the importance of keeping things in perspective, two people with knowledge of the discussion told The Associated Press. Part of that included explaining to Lucas, who is in his first season with the Panthers, that players in Fox's system are generally expected to keep their mouths shut.
There is very little celebrating among the Panthers, even after big wins, because Fox keeps things so businesslike -- even after Sunday's win moved Carolina into first place in the NFC South.
"We are 7-2 and the worst we can do is 7-9, that's all I know," he said. "We still have a lot of football left. We've won six in a row, so I'd say [the team is] probably confident. But we could go out and stumble next week and we'll be the worst team on the planet again."
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press
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