The Carolina Panthers finally won a coin toss. It has been every game this season and an overtime that the Panthers hadn’t won a coin toss. That finally changed today and so did Cam Newton’s luck against his hometown Atlanta Falcons. Today, he played a major role in getting that first win against the dirty birds.
After winning the coin toss, the Panthers proceeded to march right down the field and score on the opening drive. Cam looked god and hit Greg Olsen with a 25 yard laser down the seam to open the scoring. This was the pattern for the entire 1st half. It truly seemed like Carolina could do no wrong offensively and the offense sustained many long drives thus keeping the Falcons and their highly potent offense on the sideline.The number of plays on Carolina scoring drives in the 1st half were as follows: 11 plays, 17 plays, and 13 plays. The last 2 drives only yielding field goals. Thankfully those 2 drives didn’t come back to hurt us later in the game.
Cam looked really focused today. The only issues were when the team got down close to the endzone the offense seemed to bog down. The run game was not very good but it was effective in keeping the Falcons defense honest. The offense ran for only 79 yards on 23 carries between Williams, Tolbert and 1 carry by receiver Joe Adams on a reverse play. That is only good for an average of 3.4 yards per carry. Thankfully Cam was able to break loose for 116 yards on 9 carries. The receiving corps were very good today catching everything that Cam put on target. There were a few throws Cam really missed on. 2 to Smitty down in the endzone which were really the result of pressure as much as Cam throws being off. Then one to Louis Murphy in which he had badly beaten Donta Robinson down the sideline, Cam just flat out missed that one, had they connected Murphy would have easily strolled into the endzone. Carolina also finally scored in the last 2 minutes of either half this season on a Gano field goal with 3 seconds left in the 1st half. Total yards for teams in 1st half, Carolina: 270 yards and Atlanta: 35 yards. Easily the best half of football for Carolina this season.
The 2nd half started with more of the same. Cam opened up the scoring in the 2nd half with a 72 yard scamper to pay dirt. Just a great decision by Cam to pull the ball down and take advantage of a blitz by the Falcons. Steve Smith provided a big downfield block that allowed Cam to vault into the endzone. That was the last big play for Carolina until later in the 4th quarter. The Falcons decided to go into a hurry up offense and began to move the ball quickly and efficiently.
Atlanta scored on two 80 yard drives, 1 in the 3rd quarter and another in the 4th quarter. I, along with many Panther fans began to think, here we go again. Suddenly the Panthers were not able to generate any pressure on Ryan and with time Matty Ice was able to get the dirty birds back into the game. With the score 23-13 and Atlanta marching toward another score, the Panthers defense came up with a huge play on 4th and 8. Thomas Davis made a diving interception on a weak pass from Matt Ryan that was intended for Tony Gonzalez. After the change of possession, Cam Newton and company came up with another big play. Cam got the ball to DeAngelo Williams on a screen and the savvy veteran took over from there. With Silatolu and Garry Williams out front, DeAngelo Williams let his blockers set up and he took it 53 yards for another Panther score. That made it 30-13 Carolina. Atlanta did score again late in the 4th but thanks to some tough defense down on their own goal line, the Panthers made it difficult for the Falcons to punch it in and time essentially ran out for any late game heroics by Matt Ryan and company.
After Jordan Senn recovered the onside kick attempt by Atlanta, it sure was nice to see the Panthers lineup in the victory formation. This win was especially sweet since learning about the way Matt Ryan disrespected the Panthers in the Falcons come from behind win earlier this year when he told Carolina to get the f*#! off my field. Carolina played a complete game today and showed they do know how to close out a game. Things seem to be trending upward for this team. There still are things we need to work on but I am seeing improvement. And that is giving me hope for our future.
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