Carolina Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers had a 101-yard interception return against Denver that, incredibly, did not result in a touchdown yesterday.

It was the longest interception return in NFL history to not result in a touchdown.

Peppers, a third-year player from North Carolina, intercepted Jake Plummer's pass four yards deep in the end zone and took off down the sideline. But with the 283-pound Peppers running out of steam, Broncos wide receiver Rod Smith chased him down at the 3.

"I was really worried about someone chasing me, so I was looking back to see who it was," Peppers said.

Peppers lost the ball and it went into the end zone, where Smith recovered, but Carolina challenged the play and kept the ball when referee Larry Nemmers ruled Peppers was down before he lost the ball.

"First down, California," Nemmers announced. It was that kind of day.

"I owe it to the other guys that are out there to play hard and do anything," Smith said, explaining his excellent effort.

Three plays later -- with Peppers and Smith on the sideline taking oxygen -- Jake Delhomme scored on a three-yard run to give Carolina a 17-13 lead.

-- From News Services