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Panthers Move On In Playoffs After Defense Helps Beat Cardinals

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The Carolina Panthers are headed to the NFC Divisional playoff next weekend thanks to a record-setting defensive performance Saturday at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.  The Panthers held Arizona to just 78 yards of offense – an NFL playoff record – in the 27 to 16 victory in the NFC Wild Card playoff game.

The defense also intercepted two passes from Arizona quarterback Ryan Lindley and recorded four sacks as the Panthers won their first playoff game in 9 years. Quarterback Cam Newton threw for 198 yards and two touchdowns and Jonathan Stewart ran for 122 yards and a TD.  Carolina will face either Seattle or Green Bay next weekend.

OFF-DUTY OFFICER SHOOTS MAN

An off-duty Charlotte Mecklenburg police officer shot a man early Sunday while providing security inside a restaurant in uptown Charlotte.  Police were called to Buffalo Wild Wings on E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. around 1:50 AM, where CMPD Officer Tyler Lee had shot a man who was choking him as he tried to break up a fight in the bar area.

A police report said employees called Lee into the bar, where he witnessed an assault and ordered several men to break up the fight, at one point using his Taser on one man. Another man grabbed the officer from behind in a choke hold. When Lee was unable to break free and the man continued punching him, Lee fired his weapon, injuring the man. Lee, who works in the Eastway Division, was put on administrative leave while police investigate.

UPDATE: On Sunday afternoon, police charged two men for their roles in the case. The shooting victim also will face a charge of assaulting a police officer when gets out of the hospital, police said. The man was in critical but stable condition Sunday at Carolinas Medical Center.

WORK STARTS ON $41M CATHOLIC CATHEDRAL

The Catholic Diocese of Raleigh broke ground Saturday for a new $41 million cathedral that will seat about 2,000 people, almost seven times what the current building can seat. The ground-breaking for the Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral was Saturday at a site between Western Boulevard and Centennial Parkway in Raleigh. The cathedral is on about 39 acres that once housed diocesean offices and Cardinal Gibbons High School.  When it opens in 2 years, the new cathedral will  replace Sacred Heart Cathedral in downtown Raleigh, which seats about 320 people and which church leaders say is the smallest cathedral in the continental U.S.

MAN CHARGED WITH BABY'S MURDER

Police say a man watching a 7-month-old baby in a Newton home has been charged with murder after the infant died in his care last week.  23-year-old Tyler Linebarger was taking care of the baby and called 911. Doctors found severe injuries, both recent and healed, when the baby was taken to the hospital after he stopped breathing.  Linebarger told police the baby fell off a sofa while he was taking a shower.

MAN CHARGED IN HICKORY STABBING DEATH

Authorities have charged an 18-year-old man with murder after a stabbing at a party in Hickory, but the suspect's friends say he was acting in self-defense.  Catawba County deputies said 33-year-old Phillip White Jr. was stabbed several times in the chest around 11:30 p.m. Thursday.   Family members said White was trying to break up an argument between Christopher Mackey and a friend when Mackey stabbed him.  Deputies said Mackey ran to his girlfriend's home after the stabbing, where he was arrested.

SC WORRIES ABOUT SPREADING FLU

Flu remains a problem in South Carolina after the holidays, and now doctors and nurses are worried it will keep spreading as people go back to school and work. The Department of Health and Environmental Control reports 20 people have died from the flu in South Carolina so far this season. Seventeen of them have been over the age of 65.   The flu was spreading fast the week before Christmas with almost 9,000 positive flu tests reported statewide. That number grew to 10,000 positive tests the week that included Christmas.   Lexington School District 1 lead nurse Jessica Porter told The State newspaper parents shouldn't send their children to school with flu symptoms.

TARHEELS AND WILDCATS WIN

In College Basketball … North Carolina started its Atlantic Coast Conference season with a win at Clemson on Saturday. The Tarheels beat the Tigers 74 to 50 and now have 11 wins and three losses …. Davidson played its first-ever game in the Atlantic 10 conference Saturday night, beating Richmond 81 to 67. Jack Gibbs had 32 points as the Wildcats improved to 10 and 2 overall. Meanwhile, UNC Charlotte’s 49ers host Old Dominion in their first Conference USA game of the year. Tipoff is 1 o’clock at Halton Arena.