What a time to be alive. The Panthers are 13-0 and just keep on rolling with the latest drubbing, a 38-0 shutout victory over the fading Falcons. This game was over immediately as the offense scored touchdowns on its first three drives while racking up a franchise record 260 yards in the first quarter alone. The Panthers dominated every aspect of this game, but let's take a closer look at the finer details leading to the Panthers 17th straight regular season victory.
The game ball has to go to Ted Ginn. Plagued by drops all season long, Ginn looked like the deep threat he was expected to be in 2007 when the Miami Dolphins selected him in the first round. Ginn scored twice on passes of 74 and 46 yards. The first touchdown was particularly impressive as Ginn fought off defensive pass interference while toe-tapping the sideline to make the play. If Ginn can continue to make these catches, the league’s top scoring offense (31.6 ppg) just got that much more dangerous.
Cam was yet again on fire as he added another gem to his MVP resume. His touch on the deep balls has been particularly impressive this year. He is getting more air under the ball and as a result he now leads the league in deep throw accuracy at 51.7 percent. He is already one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks and he just turned 26 in May. Enjoy the ride Panthers fans, because it’s just getting started.
The Panthers defense was equally impressive in this week’s win. This was the first time the Atlanta Falcons had been shutout in a game since 2004. It also marked the largest shutout victory in Panthers franchise history. It was a complete defensive effort as all three levels of the defense made plays. Josh Norman deserves tremendous credit for locking down yet another elite receiver in Julio Jones. On the year Norman has held Deandre Hopkins (HOU), Mike Evans (TB), T.Y. Hilton (IND), Dez Bryant (DAL), and Julio Jones to a combined 150 receiving yards and ZERO touchdowns. Can you say best cornerback in football?
Kawann Short continues to make the salary cap a big concern for Gettleman as he absolutely demolished Atlanta’s porous O-line. KK racked up two sacks (nine on the year) and two forced fumbles. This man is looking at a huge payday at the end of his rookie contract. This year’s free agent diamond Kurt Coleman led the team in tackles with nine and also recorded an interception in his fifth straight game giving him a league-leading seven on the season. Kuechly also recorded an interception flashing his vastly improved coverage ability this season. This was an emphatic response from a defense questioned after giving up 38 points to the Saints in New Orleans. Unfortunately Bene Benwikere broke his leg in garbage time and will be lost for the season. This is a bigger loss than many people realize. Luckily, the Panthers recently brought Courtland Finnegan out of retirement. He’s a solid fill-in for Benwikere.
A Team That Keeps Pounding
There were several other players making huge contributions as this was yet again a team victory. Ron Rivera has this team buying into the system and it has paid huge dividends. The Panthers are 13-0 with a real shot at finishing the season undefeated. Next week’s matchup at the New York Giants is their toughest test left on the schedule. The Josh Norman, Odell Beckham Jr. matchup will be the headline that dominates the week and rightly so. One thing is for sure, the Panthers need to hurry up and win the Superbowl, because my lucky jersey is really starting to reek. Keep Pounding Panther Nation!
By Josh Adler