Panthers keep scratching and clawing

Updated: December 10, 2004, 1:46 PM ET
By Sean Salisbury | ESPN Insider
I wish every team in the NFL had the guts and heart of the Carolina Panthers because they are the epitome of what professional sports are supposed to be about. This team has been severely depleted by injuries and still shows up every Sunday and plays its heart out.

By midseason this team had already lost its starting wide receiver (Steve Smith), starting running back (Stephen Davis) and its backup running back (DeShaun Foster).

Most teams would have packed it in and gone home, but the Panthers kept plugging away and are now in good position to make the playoffs. Heck, as of right now this might be the second-best team in the NFC behind the Philadelphia Eagles.