The Carolina Panthers, in the midst of an NFC South Divisional title melee, defeated the visiting New York Jets last night, 30-20. It was the second team from New York City the Panthers have clobbered at home this year, including a 38-0 week three drubbing of the Giants. Entering the game, the Panthers and the Jets had the two top rushing defenses in the NFL, so offenses on both sides looked to slog it out and see who could gain the upper hand.
Fortunately for the Panthers, the Jets also had the league’s highest turnover differential and led the NFL with 21 interceptions. This would indeed come back to bite them in the tail section. Their only Road to Metlife Stadium for the playoffs this year looks to be as ticket buyers.
The scoring started slowly at first with both teams probing each other’s defense and trying to determine what the best way to attack might be. Carolina’s first possession ended in a punt after six plays while New York’s first ended with a Captain Munnerlyn sack, who had two on the day, on their sixth play.
The Panthers scored first with a Graham Gano field goal.
On the Jets’ next possession, a Greg Hardy sack on second down pushed the Jets out of nominal field goal range, but a short third-down pass inched them close enough for Nick Folk to tie the score with a 54-yarder to close out the first quarter, 3-3.
The Panthers responded with a long drive and a field goal of their own and so did New York. So far, the teams appeared evenly matched, which was a worrisome development.
That all changed, and in a BIG hurry, after Ted Ginn, Jr. had a nice 32-yard kickoff return out to their own 28.
On the first play of the drive, Cam Newton dropped back for a quick pass and a great fake. He pump-faked to his left, as if setting up a screen pass, but quickly turned to his right, where he found DeAngelo Williams scooting around the right side of the Jets’ defense. Cam tossed him an easy short pass, which Williams caught, turned on his OWN “jets,” and didn’t stop until he had burned a trail down the right sideline for a 72-yard touchdown.
He showed he still has speed as he blew by a Jets defender and had one man still to beat. Fortunately, Brandon LaFell was downfield and blocking Dee Miliner. Miliner was no match and couldn’t shake Brandon’s block while Williams had just enough room to scoot by for the score.
Bank of America Stadium erupted with the electrifying play.
They added another field goal to close out the first half, up 16-6.
The momentum shifted early in the second half, however, when a “Riverboat Ron” move, going for it on 4th and 2 at the Jets’ 14 yard line, failed to convert. Sometime I’ll have to write a piece on “Riverboat Ron’s” strategy as it was actually sound if you look at the math.
The problem there is that the defensive stand gave the Jets an emotional boost which they parlayed into a 10-play 86-yard drive culminating in a Sheldon Richardson 1-yard TD run. Yep, you read that right. Rex Ryan is experimenting with the William “Refrigerator” Perry-style goal-line backfield set. It took him two tries to get it in, but he scored.
The fourth quarter was what sealed the game for Carolina. Facing a 4th and 9 at their own 30 yard line, the Jets went to punt and Carolina Panthers special teamer Jason Williams blocked it to give the Panthers the ball deep in Jets territory. Four plays later, Mike Tolbert walked into the end zone for a touchdown.
New York’s time was starting to run out and they were forced to the air a bit more than they normally like, and the results showed exactly why. They began a HUNH (hurry up/no huddle) offense and on third down and 11, rookie QB Geno Smith forced the ball into double coverage as Captain Munnerlyn stepped in and intercepted the pass intended for Santonio Holmes.
Holmes had two Panthers defenders right up against him as two had lunged for the ball. Holmes tackled the wrong one, and Captain cruised his motorboat right into the endzone for a touchdown, icing the game for all practical purposes.
The Jets scored a late TD on a questionable scoring call but apparently the helicoptered Cumberland for the Jets did have the football cross the plane of the goal line.
I was at this game and had fun yelling odd things, as is my habit. It’s almost always silly things…when the Jets broke off two long runs in the first half, I yelled something to the effect of “HEY! Get Gus Malzahn OFF the Jets’ sideline!!”
When Cumberland scored – barely – right in front of me I swear it didn’t look like the ball crossed – his legs and feet sure did but not the football.
If he hadn’t made it in, they’d have had a first and goal from the 3-inch line and likely would have scored anyway.
I really enjoyed seeing this game a lot. It was my second Panthers game I’ve attended this year and I enjoyed it even more than the Giants blowout due to the fact I had field-level seats and was up close to the action. If you’ve never been, consider going someday. It really is a fun, safe atmosphere.
Next weekend, the Saints march into town and look to be the biggest roadblock left for the Panthers on their own road to Metlife Stadium and the Super Bowl. They could wind up as high as the #2 seed if the NFC playoffs if they win out. Lose to the Saints, and it’s probably 5th at best.
Oh – and if the beautiful brunette wearing jeans, black boots, and sporting a pink cell phone about 5 seats over to my right is reading this? PLEASE – add me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter!
That’s another good thing about attending the games. You will see a number of beautiful ladies in the crowd, and that’s never a bad thing….win OR lose!
Follow me on Twitter @Ken_Dye
In the spirit of full-disclosure, MetLife as part of the Road to MetLife Stadium Preferred Blogger Program has provided me access to MetLife Stadium-related events and reader giveaways prizes. However, no payment was given or expected for posting about the program, and as always, all opinions given here are fully my own.