Panthers Thoughts – Week Fourteen: Unexplainable

My thoughts on the Carolina Panthers unexplainable victory over the Atlanta Falcons.

Last week the Carolina Panthers lost to the worst team in the league. This week the Carolina Panthers beat the best team in the league. Some things you just can’t explain.

The game started off on the right foot as the Panthers won the coin toss for the first time all season. They decided to receive and then marched down the field for the first touchdown of the game. Cam Newton was perfect on the drive, including a 25 yard strike to Greg Olsen for the score. The offense set the tone early with this drive and the defense followed suit.

The Panthers dominated the first half, but they let the Falcons hang around as they were forced to kick three field goals instead of getting touchdowns. As good as Newton was in the first half, and he was very good, he wasn’t throwing the deep ball very well. He overthrew Steve Smith a couple of times and completely missed a wide open Louis Murphy, who would’ve walked into the end zone untouched The defense was pretty spectacular, shutting out a good Falcons offense for the first half. They were helped by the offense, who put together long drives and kept the Falcons offense off the field, but when the Panthers defense needed to keep the offensive momentum going, they did so. The Falcons had the ball 3 times in the first half and only managed to squeak out 35 yards. The Panthers took a 16-0 lead into the half, but it failed like it could’ve been a lot bigger given how well the team played on both sides of the ball. Plus we all know how the Panthers love to give up fourth quarter leads, so only being up 16-0 against a quick strike Falcons offense definitely wasn’t comfortable.

The Falcons got the ball to start the second half, and I figured that if they scored, the Panthers would probably lose. Luckily they didn’t score. And when the Panthers got the ball back, Cam broke off a 72 yard run for the score to put the team up 23-0. That seemed like a safe lead, but this is the Panthers we’re talking about. The Falcons scored on their next drive, the Panthers went four and out, and the Falcons scored again. Then they failed on a two-point conversion, which looked to be good, to make the game 23-13 with 13:57 left, which is way too much time for Matt Ryan.

The Panthers took 4:40 off the clock on their next offensive possession, but gave the ball back to the Falcons with plenty of time left. The Falcons moved the ball past midfield, but Ryan threw an interception on 4th down. The Panthers scored a touchdown on a DeAngelo Williams screen on the ensuing possession and that was all she wrote. Even though the Falcons put another score on the board, it was too little too late.

I think most people knew that the Falcons weren’t as good as their one loss record, but I doubt many people figured they would lose to the Panthers. It’s not like the Panthers are a bad team, they’ve been in the majority of their games this year, they’ve just failed to win those games. Contrast that to the Falcons, who have won those close games all season. The Panthers were definitely the superior team on Sunday though.

For the fourth straight game, Cam played outstanding, turning in perhaps his best game of the season. He threw for 287 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 116 yards and another score. Williams had his best game of the season as well. He only had 56 yards rushing, but he had another 56 yards receiving and a touchdown.

The only problem with this win is that it may have saved Ron Rivera his job. While last weeks loss and his track record over the past two years shouldn’t be erased with one win, this was a signature win for him and maybe a sign that he’s turning things around. I still don’t think he should be the head coach next year and I’ll be upset if he is. But he seems like a good guy and if this win helps him land a job elsewhere, then good for him.


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