Panthers dominant defense sets tone for 23-3 win over 49ers

Carolina Panthers middle linebacker Luke Kuechly (59) returns an interception against San Francisco 49ers offensive tackle Trent Brown (77) during the second half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) �� Wes Horton set the tone when he burst past Zane Beadles and forced a fumble on a sack of Brian Hoyer that led to Carolina’s first score.

He got plenty of help as the day went on, with more established players like Star Lotulelei, Julius Peppers and Thomas Davis also delivering big hits on Hoyer that helped fuel a season-opening 23-3 victory for the Panthers over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.

“Everybody was chipping in,” Lotulelei said. “We had our heads in the game. It didn’t matter what anybody else on the team did. We were going to go out there and play our particular style of football today, and nothing was going to stop us.”

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