for this game

Panthers seek third straight win

Oct 3, 2006 - 11:02 PM Cleveland (1-3) at Carolina (2-2) Sunday 1:00 pm EDT

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (Ticker) -- The Carolina Panthers slowly are starting to look like the team they were predicted to be at the start of the season.

The Panthers seek their third straight win Sunday when they face the Cleveland Browns in an interconference matchup.

Considered the favorites to represent the NFC in Super Bowl XLI, the Panthers lost their first two games - both without Pro Bowl wide receiver Steve Smith.

However, Smith has returned from his nagging hamstring injury to catch 17 passes for 199 yards and a touchdown in wins over Tampa Bay and New Orleans.

Smith had 10 catches for 87 yards and a TD in last Sunday's 21-18 victory over New Orleans. Jake Delhomme threw a go-ahead four-yard TD pass to Drew Carter midway through the fourth quarter and DeShaun Foster added a 43-yard score later in the period.

In Romeo Crennel's second season as coach, the Browns dropped their first three games before overcoming a 21-3 deficit in last Sunday's 24-21 victory over Oakland.

Against the Raiders, the Browns were able to rally behind Charlie Frye, who completed 22-of-32 passes for 192 yards and three touchdowns. Reuben Droughns returned to the lineup after missing a game with a shoulder injury to rush for 100 yards on 25 carries.

Frye will be looking for time to throw against the aggressive front of the Panthers led by defensive end Julius Peppers, who is tied for the league lead with five sacks.

This is the Browns' second game against an NFC South opponent. They opened the season with a 19-14 home loss to New Orleans.

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