Nov 3, 2013; Charlotte, NC, USA; Carolina Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart (28) breaks a tackle of Atlanta Falcons linebacker Paul Worrilow (55) and linebacker Akeem Dent (52) during the game at Bank of America Stadium. Panthers win 34-10. Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

Panthers Crush Falcons, 34-10

Not to be flippant about a now 5-3 team, but this Panthers win looked a lot like the four previous ones. They got out to a lead, held and extended it, and won the game with a stifling defense and a strong running game, but there were a few notable differences.

First, running back Jonathan Stewart returned to the field for the first time this season and was actually the most productive back with 43 rushing yards on 9 carries. DeAngelo Williams added 42 yards on 13 carries.

Mike Tolbert and Cam Newton each had a TD run and had a couple dozen yards each, so the running attack going forward looks near-impossible to game-plan for if you’re the defensive coordinator facing off against them in coming weeks.

Brandon LaFell led Carolina’s receivers with 6 catches for 74 yards, but fumbled after 30-yard reception. Thankfully, he got the ball back, but it seems like every week he has a bonehead play whether it’s a key drop or fumble, or something. It’s good to see him producing more reliably but he still has a ways to go.

Cam had an off week, going 23-for-37 for 249 yards, a TD, and two picks. It’s the first game in the last four that Newton has thrown an interception, but the defense and running game held up very nicely for him. As I watched the game, he seemed a little too tense and threw a lot of passes harder than he should have. Even TV analyst Brian Billick saw that and he probably doesn’t watch Cam in particular more than I or most fans do.

In any case, Falcons QB Matt Ryan had to be more tense. He had a nice 21-for-27 day with 219 yards and a TD pass but the ball-hawking Carolina defense intercepted him three times, including a pick-six by veteran cornerback Drayton Florence to Matty ice the game.

Atlanta’s struggles continue as the Panthers’ defense asserted itself once again and during the first half of the season has put the rest of the NFL on notice that they are not to be taken lightly. The gap between them and the Chiefs narrowed slightly in scoring defense as Kansas City gave up 13 to Buffalo in yet another win for the crew from Arrowhead.

With a defense this good and a running game this solid, Cam won’t have to be perfect for them to beat half the teams in the NFL.

With the San Francisco 49′ers looming on the slate next week, Cam better return to the form of his previous three games where he tossed 8 TD passes without an interception.

Let’s hope that trend continues after a hiccup today.

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  • ahrcshaw

    All of what you say was and is true, Cam seemed to be pressing it too much, but in defense of Cam you have dig deeper into his performance. First of all look at the 23 for 37 pass completions ( 62 % ) Smitty did not catch a couple he would normally have caught. Shula’s game plan called for more long down field passes (4) instead of staying with the short or moderate and Cam forced them instead of checking down. If I am not mistaken all were in the first half, which means Shula changed to plan in the second half. I do not know the number of passes or completions Cam had in the first half compared to the second half, but if you just take the two Smitty missed and 2 of the 4 long balls that means Cam’s accuracy rate would have been 27 for 37 or ( 72 %) and probably no interceptions. Not bad for a 3rd year pro.

    A win anyway you can get it is always good, what impressed me more was the change in intensity between the first half and second half and especially the 4th Qtr for the Panthers, you could not only see it you could feel it. I know a good play can change to whole completion of a game, but the change was more like a total team impression rather then one player or one play

    I have to be honest, I was very concerned about this game, Atlanta, an I 85 rivalry, a possible high powered quick striking offense and a fickled Panther Offense especially with the score as close as it was, but that all changed during Atlanta’s 1st possession of the 2nd half, the defense took the steam out of Atlanta and the offense took that steam to route them. This Panther team is truly dangerous, the coaching staff is doing very well and opposing teams are on notice. Next up the 49rs, Go Panthers.