Panthers' Defense-Legitimate Danger After Mauling Miners

You can bet right now that the national media machine is anointing the Panthers’ defense their new darling child. On a 4 game winning streak, highlighted by a demonstrative win over divisional foe, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina tagged the the media machine’s radar briefly. Hesitancy characterized these faint, non-committal sightings, however.  There were a few who believed the Panthers were an emergent contender. TJ was the lone Panther supporter on ESPN’s Sunday Countdown. +Mike Greenberg, not without hearing San Fran outrage, also backed the #Panthers going into Candlestick.  
Most genuinely, +Michael Wilbon  called for the Panthers to at least split the 49ers/Patriots, potentially winning both.  

Idling Media Machine:

The defense had performed well.  The offense had put up some impressive numbers.  The media machine, however, sputtered over Panther legitimacy because their victories were against junker teams (Giants, Vikings, Rams, Buccaneers,  and Falcons).  The Panthers’ surge simply wasn't enough to ping their hype radars.

None will be surprised when the buzz guzzling media machine baptizes the Panthers as the latest, greatest after today’s upset against the, Wildcard favorite, 49ers.

Well, none of that matters anyway because Carolina’s defensive dominance demands the machines’ acknowledgement.  If they were reluctant to believe that the Panthers are the league’s best defense...if you were reluctant to believe the Panthers were legit, today’s clinic cemented the matter.  According to safety Mike Mitchell today’s performance will silence doubters, stating  “they shouldn't have too much to say. We’re relevant. We’re here.”

9 points allowed; held to field goals only; on the road against last year’s NFC champs--I could just stop there. There’s more though. Our defensive line dominated. Our linebackers swarmed the ball, and our secondary made enough plays to suffocate any miners’ last gasps for life.   

One #PantherNation member we follow neatly highlighted just how dominant Carolina’s defense was today, tweeting:
Still wavering?  You shouldn't, there’s more.

Brief Box Score:

Total Yds: 151  (yep, that’s total yards)
Rushing Yds: 105 (yep, the league's top rushing attack)
Passing Yds: 46  (yep, the league’s worst passing team)
3rd conversions: 2-13 (15%) (yep, that won’t get it done)
Sacks for loss: 6-45 (yep, a first round caliber offensive line got smoked)
3 and outs: 7

Who was responsible for Carolina’s defensive dominance?  It was a COMPLETE defensive effort. Carolina’s defense simply played lights out football, top to bottom. From a punishing defensive line and a swarming linebacker core, to an opportunistic secondary, the Panthers got it done.  Both Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy got to the quarterback.  Carolina’s defensive tackles, led by Dwan Edwards, pushed the middle, flustering Colin Kaepernick nearly on every down.  The unit put together some impressive numbers today.

Sacks: 6
Fumble recoveries: 1
Tackles for loss: 9
QB hits: 7  
Oh and did I mention they had Luke Kuechly?

For the last several years, San Francisco has had arguably the NFL’s best linebacker core, manned by Navarro Bowman and 6 time Pro Bowler Patrick Willis.  These two, particularly Willis, have dominated fan debates over the league’s overall best linebacker
Today, both Bowman and Willis were on the field, but neither were the best linebacker on the field-- that honor goes to Luke Kuechly

Kuechly was a beast today.  11 solo tackles. 1 sack. 2 tackles for losses. 1 pass defended (the best delivered by +Colin Kaepernick  all day).   

Led by tackling machine Luke Kuechly, the Panthers defense single-handedly won the game today.  Mitchell is right, they have arrived.  This defense puts the Carolina Panthers in a position to win.  If Carolina can polish their offensive performance, the Panthers will be a force to be reckoned with in January.

After today, the media will fawn over the Panthers.  After today,#PantherNation believes this is for real.  But most importantly, the Panthers believe they are legit.  
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