It was a reunion between players and former teams. Byron Bell played against the Panthers for the first time since his departure, and Michael Oher remembered his old team the Titans. It wasn’t either of these guys' show, not that anyone thought it would be.
Today's 27-10 victory was the Cam Newton show. He was dialed in, connecting on his first 11 passes. He went to his most reliable target, Greg Olsen, early and often as the Panthers marched down to score on their first two possessions. Olsen finished the game with 8 catches for 80 yds. He nearly got in the end zone in the second quarter, but as we all know, he can’t break a tackle. He can sure catch, however. Olsen made a phenomenal one-handed grab down the sideline, and continued to come up with the big grabs, as he has all season, when called on.
The Panthers defense rose and fell and then rose again like tides of the ocean. It looked as if Carolina’s defense was going to punish the Tennessee Titans after forcing a 3 and out on the first possession, but Marcus Mariota made some impressive plays in the 2nd quarter and on 3rd down. Although the Titans had only 11 first downs in the game, 7 came in the first half.
The defense made the necessary adjustments at halftime, keeping the Titans scoreless in the second half. Kony Ealy earned his 3rd sack in three games in the fourth quarter, and Kawann Short continued to stand out. Short is having an extraordinary year. Today he racked up his 4th sack in three games, and when he wasn’t being a disruptive force, he was fortuitously picking up fumbles. Oddly, this success came without Thomas Davis and Luke Kuechly destroying would be offensive players. Thomas Davis didn't record a single tackle on the day.
Like all of Carolina’s wins, the Panthers didn’t dominate their opponent like a college team racking up style points. Carolina was in control of this game from start to finish. Mid-second quarter, Tennessee landed a couple of punches, but there wasn’t ever a real chance at a knockout. It was clear, if Carolina was going to lose, it wasn’t because of Tennessee. Their defeat could only come at their own hand.
Carolina is on cloud nine right now. New England extended their streak today to nine as well. If Cincinnati wins tomorrow, it will be the first time in NFL history that three teams are 9-0. The record isn’t surprising given this week marked the first time that three teams started 8-0. Each week the pressure mounts. The expectations grow exponentially with every victory, and Carolina will have to remain mentally focused as every down threatens to be the cause of their first loss. The pressure is high, but fans are flying higher right now!
Cam Newton: 21/26 217 yds, 2 TDs
Jonathan Stewart: 22 rushes, 91 yds TD
Greg Olsen: 8 rec, 80 yds
Kawann Short: 1 sack, 1 FR
Kurt Coleman: 5 tackles, 1 INT
By the Professor, aka Tony Dunn
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