The Panthers have placed 17 guys on injured reserve this season, but watching them today you wouldn’t know it. Carolina moved the ball down field with ease as they cruised to a 48-16 victory, while racking up 433 yards of total offense. Cam Newton broke Peyton Manning’s single-season rookie passing record, throwing for 171 yards and three scores. And Brandon LaFell continued to showcase his progression from last year as he hauled in 3 catches for 103 yards, and a touchdown. The defense played extremely aggressive, holding the Buccaneers to just over 300 yards of offense, and forcing three turnovers on the day.
What impressed me the most today was how efficiently the Panthers were able to run the ball. They gained 270 yards on the ground off of just 31 carries. Jonathan Stewart was the leading rusher, averaging over 12 yards per carry while gaining 88 yards rushing. Over the last couple weeks we’ve seen fewer pass attempts from the offense and an increase of the three-headed rushing attack consisting of Jonathan Stewart, DeAngelo Williams, and Cam Newton. And it has made a huge difference, seeing as how the Panthers have won four out of their last five games. I was also very pleased with how the defense held up today. There are not many teams in the NFL, if any, that have had more injuries on defense than Carolina. However, the past couple weeks they have been able to cause turnovers and keep opposing offenses in check. Jordan Senn, a guy who was buried behind the depth chart at the beginning of the season, has been a huge bright spot this year. He led the team today with 10 tackles.
Other than allowing the Bucs to complete a couple third-and-longs, I can honestly say I have no negative things to say about the Panthers performance. However, they did allow to Josh Freeman to complete a very high percentage of his passes, but that is something that has happened also season long, and is going to continue to happen until they receive some upgrades at that position.
The Panthers continue to progress and get better, and become more experienced with each passing week. You can tell that the team morale has is on the rise and everybody is excited about what they can achieve next year.