Carolina Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Notes, Grades, and MVP’s
By Nick Yon
After an impressive first half, the “Cardiac Cats” strike again…
Game Day Notes
First Half: Shades of 2015
- Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner had the Buccaneers reeling in the first half. On five straight drives, Turner dialed up plays that resulted in five straight touchdowns. Cam Newton‘s response to Turner’s coaching has blossomed into something special.
- The use of the shifty, speedy, and yards-after-catch receivers in the backfield evidently had the divisional rivals reeling at every turn. McCaffrey and Samuel as the hybrid backs they are combined for 18 points in the first half. Samuel’s score was particularly sensational.
- While the Turner hasn’t featured much of Greg “Mr. Reliable” Olsen when Turner does opt to weaponize him, Turner weaponizes him. A 17-yard bullet from QB1 to TE88 was just sweetened by the fact that Olsen bobbled the ball up to himself for an impressive grab.
- Eric Ried picked off an early ball to set the tone of the defense. Speaking of Eric Ried, how special it must have been for him to get that interception. Regardless of political affiliation, Ried was partially responsible for popping the top off of this game during the first half of this game.
- James Bradberry has been locking down the elite wide receivers of the National Football League all year. He’s been going head-to-head with Julio Jones, A. J. Green, Odell Beckham, Alshon Jeffrey, Michael Crabtree, and now Mike Evans. The third-year cover man is a ghost of another
- Defenses win championships, and the Panthers’ defense played to a championship level caliber. Luke was flying all over the field per usual. By the way, anybody else notices that collar around number 59’s neck? According to David Newton at ESPN, it’s a “thin collar that wraps around the neck and applies pressure on the jugular vein to increase blood volume in the skull to create an air-bag effect.” There’s a fun fact to his your family with during the coming holidays.
- Another fun fact, the 35 points the Panthers scored during the first half was a franchise record.
- DID THIS GAME REMIND ANYONE ELSE OF 2015? ANYONE?
Second Half: The Cardiac Cats Appear
- Oh dear, offensive stalling everywhere. Cam Newton and company took their foot off of the pedal during the third quarter. Can’t really blame them for not playing as aggressively, but the Buccaneers feature the worst defense in the league. It shouldn’t have been difficult for the offense to impose their will on that low of a defense.
- Fitzmagic came to life during the second half throwing for four touchdowns. More concerning was that the Buccaneers were able to make what seemed to be sure, blow out victory into something that resembled a game.
- Who was covering number ten on the Buccaneers? It looked like no one was covering him as he sliced up the Panthers’ defense for two touchdowns and 82 yards on eight receptions.
- However, not all was horrible during the second half of the game. On a highly impressive drive to stall the momentum of the surging Buccaneers, Cam Newton connected with Christian McCaffrey to force the ball up the field. McCaffrey has quickly developed into Cam Newton’s sidekick and Norv Turner’s greatest chess piece. Punctuate that drive with a bullet pass to Curtis Samuels over the middle, and Carolina’s victory over a divisional rival was complete.
Game Day Grade
Overall Game Grade: B
The Panthers have to keep their foot on the gas. While the first half may have felt like 2015, the second half most definitely did not. Both the offense and defense disappeared during the third quarter. Even worse, neither truly reappeared at any point during the game. Flashing the incredible potential of the offense during the first quarter, maintaining that momentum will be key for the Panthers in the future.
Game Day Most Valuable Player
Most Valuable Player of the Game: Christian McCaffrey
While it was extremely close between Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuels, McCaffrey ultimately takes this award home this week. Between his receptions and rushing, McCaffrey had a total of 157 yards and was responsible for two touchdowns. He’s becoming everything that an eighth overall pick in the draft should be.