Smash and Dash gash the Lions

DeAngelo Williams (AP)

Now this is the type of running game that will put a smile on any coach's face, especially one who loves physical football like coach John Fox. Carolina's "Smash and Dash" tandem of Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams combined for 250 of Carolina's franchise-record 264 rushing yards Sunday in a 31-22 win over the Lions.

Granted, it came against the NFL's 31st-ranked run defense. But the Panthers like what they're seeing out of their young running backs.

They helped the Panthers awake from their slumber and overcome an early 10-0 deficit. After being held to just 10 total yards in the first quarter, the Panthers erupted for 149 yards on the ground and scored 21 second-quarter points to take control of the game.

Both backs averaged more than 8.5 yards per carry.

Stewart had 130 yards on 15 attempts, including a 22-yard touchdown run; Williams added 120 yards on 14 carries and two touchdowns, the highlight being a 56-yard burst.

"They were yelling it in the stands today," Williams said of the new moniker. "It was something that the fans picked. It wasn't something I came up with."

So does he like the nickname?

"You can't argue with the fans -- the fans are always right," Williams said with a laugh.

"Whether (Stewart) is out there or I'm out there you don't get a different look," Williams said. "You pretty much get the same guy out there. He can bash you up and if you let him, he can take it 60 or 70 yards. I feel that I can be that same back too. I think we are doing a great job of running the football with me and Stu."

It wasn't pretty, for sure, but the Panthers assured themselves their first non-losing season since 2005, which is good news for Fox, who many considered on the hot seat coming into the season.

"Every game in the NFL is not going to be a walkover game," Stewart said. "You are playing against the best of the best. That's why we call it professional football. You have to go out there and give it your best every game. The Lions came out there and gave us what they got. Fortunately we came away with the win at the end."

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