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Panthers pass rush bright spot in losing season

Wednesday - 11/14/2012, 5:39pm  ET

Denver Broncos' Willis McGahee (23) runs as Carolina Panthers' Charles Johnson (95) and Greg Hardy (76) defend during the second half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Nov. 11, 2012. (AP Photo/Bob Leverone)

AP Sports Writer

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- The Carolina Panthers' pass rush has proven to a bright spot in an otherwise disappointing season.

Defensive ends Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy have combined for 15 sacks in the past six games making them the NFL's second-most productive sack tandem in the league behind only Denver's Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera says he wouldn't trade his duo for any in the NFL.

Despite the team's 2-7 record, Rivera likes the improvement he's seen on defense, saying, "as our defensive line has grown, our defense has gotten better."

Carolina's defense has held opposing offenses to 20 points or less in each of their last five games. Unfortunately for the Panthers, four of those games have resulted in defeats.

Carolina hosts Tampa Bay on Sunday.

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