Pieces All Fall in Place as Panthers Top Redskins

Carolina Panthers v Washington Redskins

By Michael Brennan

All the pieces are beginning to come together for Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers (2-6) did something that they weren’t able to do all season, close out a game. Throughout their pitiful start, Carolina has struggled with too many aspects of their offense and defense; on Sunday, they were able to achieve the things they have been working towards all season long.

The Washington Redskins (3-6) could not escape the Carolina defense no matter how hard they tried. Robert Griffin III and the new found offense in Washington were stymied throughout the game by a relentless Panthers team. Each new week has provided as a stepping stone for the Panthers defense that has recorded 10 sacks in the past two games. Amazingly, Carolina was able to apply this type of pressure on RGIII while only bringing their four down linemen.

On the other side of the ball, Cam Newton was brilliant. It’s been a long time coming, watching Newton make the most of critical opportunities, but he was able to find his rhythm and rebuild his confidence. He completed 13 of 23 passes for 201 yards with one touchdown. On the ground, Newton recorded 37 yards and a touchdown. As a unit, the offense converted 5 of 11 on 3rd downs (45.5%), committed no turnovers, and were able to score points in the fourth quarter. In four of their six losses this season, the Panthers have failed to score a touchdown in the final quarter.

Steve Smith hauled in his first receiving touchdown of the season on a 19 yard pass from Cam Newton. Converted receiver, Armanti Edwards, recorded more yards on one reception (82 yards) than he has ever recorded in his entire career catching passes for the Carolina Panthers. Edwards’ long reception was due in part to a well run route that found him without a defensive back near him for miles. The backfield that has not achieved much success this season was able to put up 129 yards and two touchdowns.

As for the Redskins, they are now nursing their third straight loss, a feeling that the Carolina Panthers know all too well. Mike Shanahan exercised some gutsy play calling that found had his team going for it on fourth down three times in just one drive. Robert Griffin III completed 23 of his 39 passes attempts but failed to throw for any touchdowns. The Redskins backfield, led by Alfred Morris, compiled 151 yards on the ground. But the story of the day was the Redskins inability to convert and get past a Carolina Panthers defense that has been getting better with every game.

Panthers’ linebacker, Luke Kuechly, led the team with 15 total tackles and helped anchor a defense that was on the field for more than 10 minutes in the second quarter and still managed to force the Redskins offense off of the field with a turnover on downs. The Panthers defense did not force any turnovers; however, they forced several three-and-outs against the ‘Skins.

The Panthers are finally getting the wheels moving in the right direction and are on the right track towards salvaging their season. Next week, they face a tough test against the Denver Broncos and former Head Coach, John Fox. Now that the Panthers finally have their feet under them and their confidence again, there is no telling what you can expect from a team that undoubtedly has the weapons to continue their success.


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