CHARLOTTE, N.C. - When their top two offensive players went down with injuries, the Carolina Panthers didn't panic. Instead, they put in backups who led the Panthers to a much-needed victory.
By the end of Carolina's 28-17 win over Kansas City, the losses of Stephen Davis and Steve Smith didn't quite seem to be such a big threat to the Panthers' hopes of returning to the playoffs.
Instead, DeShaun Foster and Keary Colbert looked ready to be the team's new stars.
Foster ran for 174 yards Sunday - 4 short of Davis' team record - and scored a touchdown. He also had a team-record 71-yard run that helped set up the game-breaking touchdown.
It was the third-year player's best game as a pro. Most of his opportunities last year came when Davis needed a breather or in mop-up duty.
But when Davis had unexpected surgery on his knee Friday, Foster got the starting job.
"When you are in there and able to get carry after carry, you can just get in a rhythm and go from there," Foster said. "I know what I'm used for, so I play that role. But (when) I had to be an every down back, I just wanted to let everyone know I can do that."
Colbert, a rookie, had three catches for 46 yards and a 9-yard touchdown. He had more pressure on him than Foster, though.
Colbert was replacing Smith, who is Carolina's game-breaker - the one player on the roster capable of turning a 6-yard catch into a 60-yard gain. But he broke his leg in last week's loss to Green Bay, and Colbert became an instant starter.
"I've been telling everyone: This guy is very, very capable," safety Mike Minter said.
"I continued to work hard this week, and things paid off for me," Colbert said. "Everything happens for a reason."