By Michael Brennan
Cam Newton has finally found his stride. For this first time in his young career, Newton appeared on Monday Night Football, besting the Philadelphia Eagles at home.
The Carolina Panthers (3-8) ventured in to Philadelphia for their second primetime matchup this season. The Eagles (3-8) have struggled in ways very similar to the Panthers; injuries, unproductive performances, and the loss of key personnel has put both teams in a good position to watch the postseason from home.
Carolina came out of the game with a strong balance on both sides of the ball. The offense, led swiftly by Newton, posted 14 points in the opening quarter. The Panthers were unable to produce in the second quarter but more than made up for their difficulties by closing out the Eagles when it mattered most. The Panthers defense and special teams may be the unsung hero of the contest, forcing three turnovers, two of which came in the fourth quarter.
For the Eagles, Bryce Brown had a monster game replacing LeSean McCoy. Brown only carried the ball 19 times but compiled 178 yards and scorched the Carolina secondary on a 65-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. Nick Foles was rather irrelevant from an aerial standpoint. Foles only tossed for 119 yards, completing 16 of his 21 passes for no touchdowns and no interceptions.
The Eagles defense struggled most of the game to stop Newton. He was able to sidestep pressure and pick up the first down when it was needed, something he hasn’t been able to do much recently.
Newton also completed 18 of his 28 passes for 306 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. Newton accounted for two touchdowns on the ground as well, rushing for 52 yards on 14 carries.
It was only the sixth time this season that Cam Newton has not thrown an interception – interesting statistic to accompany that – in the games that Carolina has won this season; Newton has not thrown a single interception. Brandon Lafell’s role has also continued to grow throughout the season and took another step on Monday night. Lafell had three receptions for 74 yards and one touchdown in the win against the Eagles.
The Panthers may have found some motivation to rectify the rest of their season despite being on the outside looking in for the playoff picture. Ron Rivera and Sean McDermott have continued to develop a defense that is growing in notoriety and causing trouble for opposing offenses.
Meanwhile, Newton has been the only ray of hope for Carolina’s running game. Carolina has struggled all year with running the football and Newton is their leading rusher by a margin of more than 100 yards and 5 touchdowns.
The Panthers visit Arrowhead Stadium to take on the Chiefs on Sunday. The Chiefs have the fourth-worst passing defense in the NFL which should provide Cam Newton with enough windows to capture another big road win.