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NFL: Panthers notebook

Associated Press

The Panthers’ notebook …

CHARLOTTE — Keyshawn Johnson is tired of all the negative talk surrounding the Carolina Panthers.

Yes, they’re a disappointing 6-5. Yes, they’re struggling on offense. But with five games left, Johnson likes the Panthers’ position.

“We’re fine. I’m 6-5. I think I’m still in the playoff hunt picture,” Johnson said. “I’m not mathematically out. Until I’m mathematically out, then I’m still fighting on getting into the playoffs and winning my division.”

The Panthers visit Philadelphia (5-6) on Monday.

“It’s something about this football team that loves having our backs against the wall,” safety Mike Minter said. “We then come out swinging and play well. Whatever it takes to get us in the Super Bowl, I don’t care, man.”

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GAMBLE’S STRUGGLES: It was a long flight home from Washington on Sunday for cornerback Chris Gamble, who was covering tight end Chris Cooley when he made a game-winning 66-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter.

“It was like, ‘Man I’ve got to fly back home and deal with it.’ But I forgot about it and I’m getting ready for Philadelphia right now,” Gamble said.

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PHILLY MEMORIES: The Panthers return to Philadelphia on Monday, site of the biggest win in team history. The Panthers reached the Super Bowl with a 14-3 win over the Eagles in the NFC championship game in 2003.

The defense was dominant with four interceptions and Foster broke five tackles on his way to a memorable 1-yard touchdown run.

“From the start to the finish we were having fun,” said defensive end Mike Rucker, who had a sack in the game. “There was not one time where we got uptight or got nervous. We had fun throughout the whole thing. Just going in the locker room and seeing that trophy. That was special. I think the guys that were here, that brings up memories when we go back up there. And maybe if those juices get flowing, we’ll get that feeling back again.”

But the Panthers’ last trip to Philadelphia wasn’t so much fun. The Eagles beat Carolina 30-8 in a rematch the following season.

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NOTES: Despite being held to five catches for 34 yards last Sunday against Washington, Steve Smith still leads the NFL with 100.4 yards receiving per game. Smith needs 96 yards Monday night to join Muhsin Muhammad as the only Panthers to have three 1,000-yard receiving seasons. … Julius Peppers has been held without a sack in four of the past five games, but still leads the NFL with 11. … Jake Delhomme has six touchdown passes and two interceptions in three career Monday night games.

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