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Taylor's late heroics preserves win for Redskins

Nov 26, 2006 - 9:29 PM LANDOVER, Maryland (Ticker) -- Jason Campbell and Chris Cooley put the Washington Redskins on top. Safety Sean Taylor made sure they stayed there.

Campbell connected with Cooley on a long touchdown pass in the fourth quarter and Taylor made a pair of big plays on defense in the closing minutes as the Redskins posted a 17-13 victory over the Carolina Panthers.

Considered the favorites to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl at the start of the season, the Panthers (6-5) had won six of their last eight games following an 0-2 start.

Carolina was denied its third straight win and slipped into second place in the NFC South, a game behind New Orleans.

"They are all devastating," Carolina coach John Fox said of the loss. "It's not any more devastating than any other loss, they all hurt. At 6-5, we have to go back to the drawing board."

Making his second career start, Campbell completed only 11-of-23 passes for 118 yards, but threw a pair of touchdowns. A 66-yard hookup with his tight end Cooley gave the Redskins a 17-13 lead with 4:26 to play.

"I think we could not have asked for a whole lot more from his play," Redskins coach Joe Gibbs said of Campbell. "He's been up against two of the toughest defenses in Tampa and Carolina, so that's good news for us. His preparation has been outstanding."

The Panthers drove into Washington territory on the ensuing possession but Taylor ended the threat, wrapping up Drew Carter with an open-field tackle after a four-yard gain on 4th-and-6 from the 33.

The Redskins (4-7) went three-and-out and Carolina was again on the move after Jake Delhomme hit tight end Kris Mangum for 19 yards to the Washington 41. But Taylor came up big again, intercepting Delhomme on the next play for his first interception of the season.

"All I know is he was just throwing the ball up. When you've got a front like that, it goes hand-in-hand and makes the back end easy to cover," Taylor said. "When that ball's in the air, that's our motto in Washington, go to the ball. That's all we can do for the next five weeks is go to the ball."

Last Sunday, the Panthers tied a franchise record with seven sacks in a 15-0 victory over St. Louis. On Sunday, they managed to get to Campbell just once while surrendering 104 yards on 24 carries to Ladell Betts.

"It wasn't easy playing against one of the top-ranked defenses in the NFL," Campbell said. "We knew it was going to be a tough task coming into the game. I think that's why we decided that we were going to run the ball."

Steve Smith caught an eight yard TD from Delhomme midway through the fourth quarter to give the Panthers a 13-10 lead. Despite the TD catch, Smith had a relatively quiet game with five catches for 34 yards.

Taylor was not surprised at Washington's defensive effort.

"I get more ticked off when reporters during the week say, 'Oh, what about Steve Smith?' Like I'm chopped liver," Taylor said. "And then when we do something well, it's like a shock. That's more frustrating because as competitive players in the NFL, that's what we do."

The Redskins are 7-1 all-time against the Panthers.

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