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Panthers stick together to salvage victory

CHARLOTTE – "It was a series of errors. It was a series of missed opportunities. Sometimes, that's the way it goes."

Most of the time, those words are uttered in a losing locker room.

Instead, tight end Greg Olsen stood at his locker breathing heavy sighs of relief. The Panthers let a 23-6 fourth-quarter lead slip away. But they salvaged the game, eventually claiming a 29-26 victory in overtime.

"Not everything is going to go well," Olsen said. "You have to draw on your experience and keep going."

Four battle-tested Panthers were forced to move past individual mistakes or missed opportunities to keep that game from ending in defeat.

Kicker Graham Gano missed an extra point. "You've got to put those through," he said.

Olsen was called for holding that wiped away a critical conversion on third-and-5. "Tough to swallow," he said.

Linebacker Luke Kuechly couldn't hang onto a game-sealing interception in the final seconds. "Our day would have been a little less stressful," he said.

Wide receiver Ted Ginn, Jr. dropped a game-winning touchdown in overtime. "That was game," he said.

But they all fought back to contribute to yet another win.

Following Ginn's drop, with Carolina trailing 26-23 in overtime and needing at least a field goal, Olsen hauled in a one-handed 19-yard catch. Ginn then made a contested catch for 12 yards, helping to set up a 42-yard game-tying field goal from Gano.

On the ensuing Colts drive, Kuechly intercepted Andrew Luck at the Indianapolis 39-yard line.

Four plays later, Gano was given the chance for ultimate redemption. A 52-yarder for the win.

"I was super-stressed, I'm not going to lie," Olsen said. "But we have a lot of confidence in Graham. We came to the sideline, turned around and said, 'Alright Graham, it's on you buddy.'

"He nailed it."

Gano said "relief" wasn't the right word to describe his game-winning conversion.

"It's excitement," Gano said. "I don't get rattled. I just stay the same, even-keeled guy. I think that helps. Part of being a kicker is being able to move on."

Kuechly watched Gano's kick, then looked to the sky and cracked a smile.

"I was just like, 'Alright, we got it. We got it. We found a way to do it,'" Kuechly said. "I was watching and I was like, 'Just go through.'"

When it went through, Ginn was thankful. His team stuck together. And they pulled out a seventh consecutive win.

"It helped me out a lot for all the Twitter and Instagram (messages) that could be going on," he joked. "I just thank my team. We came together.

"That shows the character on our team. Nobody dropped their heads. We continued to fight."

View game action photos from Carolina's 29-26 overtime win against Indianapolis.

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