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Panthers winning the old-fashioned way: controlling the ball and playing tough defense

  • c71d317e0539c026420f6a706700605a.jpg

    Carolina Panthers middle linebacker Luke Kuechly, left, sacks San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game in San Francisco, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2013. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) (The Associated Press)

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    Carolina Panthers defensive end Mario Addison (97) closes in on San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game in San Francisco, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2013. (AP Photo/Ben Margot) (The Associated Press)

  • e9e0c6220630c426420f6a7067003cec.jpg

    San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh, left, shakes hands with Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera after an NFL football game in San Francisco, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2013. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) (The Associated Press)

  • 9fcedeb10542c026420f6a7067003ae2.jpg

    Carolina Panthers free safety Mike Mitchell (21) celebrates after cornerback Drayton Florence, bottom, intercepted a pass by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game in San Francisco, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2013. The Panthers won 10-9. (AP Photo/Ben Margot) (The Associated Press)

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    Carolina Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams (34) celebrates with quarterback Cam Newton after running for a 27-yard touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers during the second quarter of an NFL football game in San Francisco, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2013. (AP Photo/Ben Margot) (The Associated Press)

The Panthers prided themselves the last two seasons on being a "big chunk offense," able to gobble up big yards on downfield passes.

Those days are gone.

Carolina (6-3) has won five straight games using an entirely different method: controlling the ball and relying on a dominant defense.

It wasn't necessarily planned that that way, but it is working.

Quarterback Cam Newton has warmed up to the idea that being patient and taking what the defense is giving him can be pretty effective.

Newton says to win in the NFL "you have to have the big play threat, which we do have, but for longevity you have to have methodical drives. ... If we have that mentality, especially with our defense playing lights out, we can be scary."

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AP NFL website www.pro32.ap.org