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Game Balls: Panthers vs. Lions

Here are the game ball recipients from Carolina's 24-7 victory over the Detroit Lions:

DE Mario Addison: A season ago, as a solid contributor to the defensive line rotation who played in every game and started two, Mario Addison recorded 2.5 sacks.

Sunday, Addison recorded 2.5 sacks – all in the fourth quarter.

"When I get my chance, I'm going to go all-out," Addison said. "We all have a role on this team, and everybody's role is important. My role is to use the speed that God gave me, and that is what I did."

RB Jonathan Stewart: In some ways, several pass catchers were worthy of getting their hands on a game ball. Tight end Greg Olsen led the Panthers with six catches for 72 yards; Jason Avant scored his first touchdown as a Panther; Brenton Bersin caught his first NFL pass; rookie Kelvin Benjamin made his not-first amazing catch.

But in contrast to the wealth of receivers, Stewart stood alone in the backfield – quite literally. With DeAngelo Williams inactive because of a thigh injury and Mike Tolbert and Fozzy Whittaker sidelined by injuries during the game, Stewart was it. Yet he ran without regard for his own well-being, clawing his way to 37 important yards, none more important than the two he gained when he spun out of traffic for a crucial fourth-quarter touchdown.

CB Antoine Cason: Cason drew his share of snaps against Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson and helped limit him to 83 yards. When Cason wasn't keeping the ball from reaching Johnson, he was trying to take the ball for his own.

In addition to 10 tackles, Cason forced two fumbles and recovered one of them. The Lions recovered the ball when he swiped it from running back Joique Bell on the fifth play of the game, but Cason stripped Bell on the next drive and recovered it with Detroit closing in on the red zone.

"As he was coming, I saw a couple of guys had him wrapped up. I saw the ball just out there, and my eyes lit up," Cason said. "I just punched it as hard as I could, and I felt it come out and then just start scrambling for it."


K Graham Gano: Gano probably doesn't need a game ball given that he's likely going to keep a tight grip on the fumbled ball he recovered.

"The guys were laughing," Gano said. "You don't expect a kicker to get a fumble recovery."

Gano had just been talking to some teammates last week about the time he almost recovered a fumble while he was with the Washington Redskins. Sunday, he got one for real when linebacker Ben Jacobs stripped Jeremy Ross on a fourth-quarter kickoff return.

"Coach is always saying, 'Don't be that kicker that's just barely jogging down the field,' " Gano said. "I always try to be there."

Gano is always there with his leg. While Lions rookie Nate Freese missed a pair of 49-yard field goals in the first half, the Panthers led 6-0 at halftime thanks a 29-yarder and a 53-yarder off the right foot of Gano, who was 6-for-6 from 50-plus yards last season.

"I'm glad Coach has the confidence in us to go out there for long field goals," Gano said. "Whenever they call my number, I've got to go out there and perform."

Defensive coordinator Sean McDermott: One week after offensive coordinator Mike Shula dialed up a perfect game plan for backup quarterback Derek Anderson, McDermott's defensive game plan kept the Lions off the scoreboard on 11 of 12 drives.

"Credit first of all to Sean McDermott, (secondary/passing defense coordinator) Steve Wilks and (defensive assistant/defensive backs coach) Curtis Fuller," head coach Ron Rivera said. "And kudos to the rest of the defensive staff. The secondary was outstanding. The pass rush was excellent. They harassed the quarterback a lot."

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