The Panthers did make history on Saturday night and let’s try to put it into perspective. Seventy-eight yards in total Offense is all the Cardinals could muster up. The previously held record was 85 yards given up by the 1956 Browns. I’ve already heard some say, “well it was Ryan Lindley…” Well, that Ryan Lindley also put up 316 yards and 2 TDs the previous week against San Fran. Think about that for a moment.
From a fan’s perspective, thank God for the resurgence of our Defense. Had they not played the way they did on Saturday night, now way the Panthers win on Saturday night. Earlier in the season it was so bad that I changed my Fantasy Football team name from “Monsters, Inc.” to “Where’d My Monsters Go?” And deservedly so. There was a time this year where our D could not stop themselves. They could not cover and were often out of our gaps and thus giving up big runs. Thomas DeCoud and Antoine Cason were not the answer in the Defensive Backfield. The return of Bene Benwikere (Stiki Wiki) and with the arrival of Tre Boston after that dreadful Minnesota game has made a tremendous difference.
Prior to the game Saturday night, I had never seen Thomas Davis and Luke Kuechly have a better collective game. These two are the heart and soul of our D and I think they are both playing the best football of their careers. Fourteen combined tackles, one interception and one deflected pass that lead to another interception does not tell the entire story. Time-after-time, when Arizona tried to get their running game going, Thomas Davis crashed through the line of scrimmage and hit the running back in the back field. And in pass coverage it seemed that Luke knew what was coming before it actually did. That interception that thwarted a comeback attempt late in the game was a thing of beauty. Luke showed why he is an All-Pro and all of his film study is paying off. His saying he was watching film all day on Christmas Eve rings in my ears and I see him getting better and better each week.
All of a sudden though, the Monsters came out from under the NFL’s bed and are as good as ever. Four sacks this week and 10 over the last two weeks is impressive. And on a night where Cam was beat up and facing a very good defense, our D showed up in big fashion. Star Lotulelei and Kawaan Sort have been pushing the pocket again and Kony Ealy is no longer playing like a rookie. This defense has come together at just the right time. And so has our running game. This is a perfect storm in Carolina that has this fan excited.
While the formula for the Panthers to lose to Arizona happened, a historic performance on defense covered up a lot of sins by the rest of the team. The good news is, we can go into this weekends game and limit those mistakes and our defense will travel. And though the Panthers are only the second team to ever win a playoff game and no team with a losing record have won two, I like our chances. Do you?