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Steve Smith makes winners of Carolina Panthers, fans

Steve Smith caught his 800th pass Sunday, each of them, of course, for Carolina. The season is his 13th. Fans win when a player finds a home and sticks. I think players win, too. There was a time when Smith wanted out, but he reconsidered. He is the best player the Panthers have had and a face of the franchise. He’s smart, he’s spirited and I can’t imagine Carolina without him. Targeted six times Sunday, he caught five passes, one for a touchdown.

• If Carolina beats Tampa Bay on Thursday, the Panthers will have a winning record. Think about that. They were last above .500 in 2008. At 3-3, their record already is better than it has been since 2008.

• Wouldn’t you love to know what goes on in the scrums and piles on a football field? We know only what officials tell us.

• Sunday’s weather was perfect for football, fighting or anything else. The sun was high, the temperate in the mid-50s.

• You see what former Carolina quarterback Josh McCown did to Washington Sunday? He replaced injured Chicago starter Jay Cutler in the second half and completed 14 of 20 passes for 204 yards and a touchdown. He’s one of the classiest players to wear a Carolina uniform.

• I called Ric Flair, the greatest grappler of all time, after the Carolina-St. Louis game to ask him to review the quality of the grappling. Alas, he didn’t see the game.

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