It’s Cam Newton’s world, we’re all just living in it. The frontrunner for MVP strengthened his claim with a game for the ages. According to Elias Sports Bureau, Cam Newton is the first player in the Super Bowl era to throw for 5 passing touchdowns and rush for 100 yards in the same game. What he and his team are doing this season is nothing short of spectacular. The Panthers at 14-0, are on the verge of finishing the regular season undefeated.
The game appeared to be over in the 3rd quarter when the Panthers went up 35-7 on a Ted Ginn 14-yard catch-and-run. Rather than give up, the Giants responded with 28 unanswered points. Blown leads are starting to become a recurring theme for the Panthers (see the Colts or Packers game). On a day when Odell Beckham jr. was held largely in check (by his standards), the Panthers defense surrendered 161 rushing yards (on only 27 attempts, a 5.96 ypc average). That number has to improve if the Panthers want to prevent giving up 30 points every game. OBJ tied the game late in the 4th quarter with a beautiful route that absolutely torched Josh Norman.
Many will argue, myself included, that Beckham shouldn’t have even been in the game at this point. Norman was in his head early and often, as Beckham committed 3 separate personal foul penalties. At one point, Beckham targeted an unsuspecting Norman with a helmet-to-helmet shot. Virtually any other player is ejected in that situation, so you can expect a hefty fine and possibly a suspension for Beckham. This could prove critical as the Giants are still fighting for a playoff spot.
The defense played lights out until about midway through the 3rd quarter. Ron Rivera’s team coverage and Josh Norman’s talk held Beckham to zero catches in the first half (the first time that has happened in his career). MLB Luke Kuechly led the team with 15 tackles and safety Kurt Coleman continued his breakout season totalling 13 tackles. This defense misses Benwikere, as recent acquisition Courtland Finnegan appeared lost at times. One of his blown coverages resulted in a long Giants touchdown.
This game eventually came down to Cam Newton, who upon seeing OBJ tie up the score, simply nodded his head in affirmation that this game would be theirs. Cam casually delivered strike after strike, occasionally mixing in his legs, to set up a game-winning Graham Gano 43-yard field goal. Cam basically clinched the MVP award two weeks ago, but a game like this certainly doesn’t hurt.
Even after all the penalties, injuries, and missed opportunities, the Panthers yet again emerged victorious. There is something to be said about a team that continues to find different ways to win. The resiliency this team displays week after week is characteristic of a champion and with two games remaining at Atlanta and then home for Tampa Bay, 16-0 is well within reach. Especially when you consider that Cam Newton is now 16-3 in games played during the month of December. He continues to take this franchise to new heights and it will be exciting to see how this team finishes what has already been a magical season. History is made to be broken.
By Josh Adler