The Panthers were still allowed to play football this week. And what do you know, THEY WON! Sure, they beat a team who played five tough quarters last week and had to travel from Arizona to Carolina to play a 1PM EST game. BUT THEY WON!
The Defensive Line: THEY SHOWED UP! And failing to get any pass rush through the first seven games of the season, the defensive line came up with eight sacks and were in the backfield all day against Carson Palmer. They absolutely dominated the line of scrimmage and set the tone early in this game with a forced fumble on Palmer that was returned by Thomas Davis for a touchdown. They also held David Johnson to 24 yards on 10 carries. When the defensive line plays like this, it covers up for a weak secondary. Did this happen because Arizona was simply fatigued after playing five physical quarters last week and then traveling to the east coast or will this trend continue? Next week will be very telling.
Jonathan Stewart: The late fumble wasn’t good, but otherwise Stewart was an absolute monster. He finished with 95 yards on 25 carries and two touchdowns. Those were some tough yards though. He ran through guys all game and churned out a lot of hard fought yards that the Panthers simply don’t get when he’s injured. Cam Newton is the most irreplaceable player on the Panthers offense, by Stewart is right behind him.
Cam Newton: Football is just better when he’s smiling.
The Secondary: It’s still not very good, but Leonard Johnson was activated today and he had a couple of big pass break ups and a sack. James Bradberry will hopefully be back next week, and maybe between the two of them they can be the spark that the secondary needs. Daryl Worely is getting better, but Zack Sanchez is a lost cause at this point. Palmer finished with 35/46 for 363 yards. So, when he had time to get the ball away, he was easily finding guys.
Greg Olsen: Only one catch for 11 yards. Carolina ran the ball most of the day, but Olsen is just expected to do a bit more.
The Refs: It’s tough to say the refs are against your team when the opponent was penalized 10 times for 88 yards, but they continue to fail to protect Cam Newton. There was a low hit on Newton that went unpenalized and the one roughing the passer call he did get, didn’t matter because there was a hold on the play.
The Walk Off
Second Half: Once again, this team doesn’t make a single adjustment at the half. They were up 24-7 at halftime, and decided to just sit back with the lead. It happened way too often last year and it’s not a good habit to bring back this year, especially when this team needs every win they can get. They should have come out and made a statement in the second half, instead they let the Cardinals crawl back into the game and make it interesting.
9/10. 2-5 is still not good and I don’t know how much stock I should put into this win given the circumstances. Next week against the Rams, in Los Angeles, coming off a bye; will be very telling. But hey, they won, so I can’t be too mad.