Panthers keep winning...
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — This Manning was busy grabbing
interceptions instead of throwing them.
Ricky Manning Jr. picked off three passes by Donovan McNabb and
helped put the Carolina Panthers in their first Super Bowl with
a 14-3 win over the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC championship
game Sunday night.
Earlier in the day, NFL co-MVP Peyton Manning was intercepted
four times in Indianapolis’ loss to New England in the AFC
Manning Jr. became an unlikely hero by reading McNabb’s
passes just a little better than the Eagles’ receivers. His
three interceptions came in a span of 9:39 in the second and third
quarters — the first two in Panthers’ territory, and
the third at the Philadelphia 37 to set up the clinching touchdown.
“I was hoping to get at least one,” Manning Jr. said. “I
came out there expecting to win. We attacked all day. Left side,
right side. We just kept attacking their receivers.”
In matching an NFC title game record for interceptions, Manning
Jr. outdid his effort in last week’s double overtime win
at St. Louis. In that game, his interception set the stage for
Jake Delhomme’s game-winning 69-yard TD pass to Steve Smith.
After gaining a starting spot only late in the regular season,
the 5’8”, 185-pound rookie from the University of California
Los Angeles said earlier this week he wasn’t impressed with
the Eagles’ receivers. He proved his point by being in the
right place at the right time.
With the Panthers clinging to a 7-3 lead and the Eagles driving,
a bruised McNabb hit James Thrash with a pass, but the ball was
jarred loose and Manning grabbed it and raced 17 yards to the Philadelphia
Five plays later, DeShaun Foster broke four tackles for a one-yard
touchdown run with 4:11 left in the third quarter. The Panthers
led 14-3 and were headed to the Super Bowl just two seasons after
The Panthers play the Patriots at the Super Bowl in Houston on
Manning Jr., a third-round draft pick, couldn’t earn a starting
spot at first in what was considered a weak secondary. But he moved
in as left cornerback for Terry Cousin.