Panthers Thoughts – Week Nine: A Complete Game

My thoughts on the Carolina Panthers victory over the Washington Redskins.

The Carolina Panthers finally put together 60 minutes of football. All the hype leading up to this weekend’s game was Cam Newton vs. Robert Griffin III. It wasn’t a run and gun offensive game with both QB’s making spectacular plays like many thought it could be, but as Panthers fan, it was exactly the type of game that the team needed.

The defense finally played a complete game. They’ve blown fourth quarter leads three times this year, including last week, but this week they kept the pressure on and didn’t allow RG3 to add them to his highlight reel. They recorded () sacks, pressured him all game, and got some timely drops from receivers. The run defense could’ve been better, although Alfred Morris only gained 76 yards and containing RG3 is no easy task, and they’re still not forcing turnovers, but the pass defense has been the weak point all year and it was nearly perfect on Sunday. Griffin threw for 215 yards, but there was no big play and everyone did a nice job tackling after the catch.

Things got off to a bad start as Greg Hardy was called for roughing the passer on third down in the end zone, which kept the Redskins drive alive and allowed them to drive down the field for three points, but Hardy quickly put that mistake behind him and teamed up with Charles Johnson to wreak havoc on the Redskins offensive line and RG3.

The biggest series of the game came when the defense made a goal line stand on 4th down and kept the Redskins off the scoreboard. The Redskins had previously converted two fourth downs on the drive, but the team snuffed out a RG3 keeper and stopped him short of the end zone. When the Panthers got the ball back, Newton hit Armanti Edwards (yes, that Armanti Edwards) for an 82-yard strike, which set up a short Cam touchdown run to make the game 21-6.

Even though the game seemed over, I’m sure every Panthers fan was worried after the Redskins drove down the field for a touchdown to cut the lead to 8 with 1:28 left. Luckily the Panthers easily recovered the onside kick, forced the Redskins to use their timeouts, and only left 18 seconds for RG3 to work his magic. The Redskins made it easy of the Panthers in those 18 seconds, running a screen that went nowhere and officially ending the game.

The offense didn’t put up huge number, but they were extremely efficient. DeAngelo Williams scored on 30-yard run, Newton hit Steve Smith for his first touchdown of the year, and Super Cam returned with a goal line run. For the second straight week, the offense got back to basics and it paid off. They limited the zone reads, Cam made good decisions passing the ball, and they made sure to feature the running game. I still think Williams should’ve been traded at the deadline, I won’t be shocked if the team revisits shopping him in the offseason, but he had his best game of the season on Sunday, so I have to give him credit.

This was a nice win for the team and hopefully it can give them some confidence. I’ve liked what I’ve seen these past two weeks, especially from the offense. They’ve gotten back to basic runs and Newton has been very good with his decision making. It might not be the same explosive offense that it was last season, but you have to credit defenses for adjusting. Now the offense is making some adjustments and they seem to be turning things around. The defense is starting to play good as well, especially the front four. Johnson and Hardy have dominated offensive lines and are really getting after the quarterback. The secondary still needs to be improved, but they’ve looked better as the season has gone along.

This team isn’t going to make the playoffs and I still hope that Ron Rivera is gone after this year, but if nothing else, hopefully this win boosts the confidence of the team, especially Cam Newton, moving forward.


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