C3 Up, Three Down Week 3: Steelers forge victory in convincing fashion

Three Things the Carolina Panthers Did Well

This week it was very hard to figure out what the Carolina Panthers did well. The way the Panthers played on both sides of the ball against the Pittsburgh Steelers was embarrassing. This was the one game I had no doubt that we were going to win. Panther Nation is speechless after this loss and embarrassed. I had to turn into Sherlock Holmes just to find the answers to what three things the Panthers did well. 

So what did Sherlock Homes come up with?

1. Attitude – Cam Newton took a beating in the pocket all night. Every time he stepped back to make a throw, he was getting hit by someone on the Steelers. Newton was sacked three times and was hit six times.  But he got up every time, stayed in the pocket and tried to make the play. Newton reminded me of the lyrics from a song by Chumbawama called “Get Knocked Down.” This is my version… “Cam Newton got knocked down, but he got up again, and you’re never going to keep him down!”

2. “Megatron Jr.” – Kelvin Benjamin continues to impress NFL defenses and fantasy football team owners with his catching ability. He finished the game with eight catches for 115 yards and one touchdown. Newton needs to throw the ball his way a lot more. Benjamin is reliable and can’t be covered one-on-one.

3. “The Leg” – Brad Nortman has one of the strongest legs in the NFL and he showed it Sunday night. He punted the ball a career-high 65 yards and averaged 52.5 yards per punt. His punting pinned the Steelers further back in their zone, but it didn’t matter because the Panthers defense took the night off. Nortman will play a key part in the success of the Panthers special teams as the season goes on.

By +Justin Raymond
Follow me on Twitter @JayRay19

Three Things the Panthers Did Poorly

There are games that are just not meant to be won. Games where you come out and no matter how hard the effort you put forth, it is just not going to be enough. This was the case on Sunday night, Carolina was not going to win this game. As hard as they fought, with all their concentrated effort, this game was determined before it played out on the field.

There were many things the Panthers did not do well in this matchup. There were all kinds of mistakes made by players and coaching staff. But here we will select three of the most significant failures against the Steelers.

1. The lack of running plays called: I don't know exactly the reasoning for this, but I have said since before training camp began: the success of this season will be predicated on establishing an effective run game. Having an effective run game puts less emphasis on a weak pass blocking offensive line. Shula needs to really make a commitment and run the ball. Even if the running game is not totally effective it will be something for the defense to think about and cause the front seven to have to consider something other than getting to Cam Newton. A real running game will alleviate the pressure off Cam and give the offensive line a chance to win some of those battles. Taking the pressure off Cam will equal a better Cam and in turn a better Carolina Panthers team,

2. Offensive Line- The offensive line certainly did play their worst game of the season. All of them across the board play very poorly. Even all pro center Ryan Kalil  looked lost and confused. I know part of this is because the Panthers offensive line is young and has not played against the exotic blitzes and unique schemes created by the mind of Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau. This defense confused and confounded the Panthers and they were never able to get on track. A running game I think would have helped both the offense and the defense. But we will see if Mike Shula sees the error of his ways and can make a running attack part of our game plan.

3. Defense- Never did I think the entire defense would make this list. But that is just the case after this game. The Steelers came out and basically had their way with this highly ranked Panthers defense. Big Ben and the offense seemed only slightly impaired by The Panthers. Giving up 37 points, 100 yards rushing to TWO (2) different running backs Bell and Blount, and 10 receptions to Antonio Brown. Now these are all good players for sure, but we made the look like hall of famers. It was embarrassing watching failure after failure by our defensive unit. The pressure really was not there by the front seven and Big Ben was able to pick apart the shaky Panthers secondary. After 2 games of looking so good, I believe Panthers fans had come to believe this team was better as a whole than the individual talents that had been assembled by management. After this game Panthers fans have some real evaluating to do.

Was this game an anomaly or is the Panthers team we have to look forward to for the rest of the season? I don't know the answer to that but I do know we won't have long until we find out. The schedule is getting ready to enter the toughest part and it will be a trial by fire for the next several games. I only hope the team we saw in weeks 1 and 2 are the real Panthers, because the team that played Sunday night against Pittsburgh is not even a .500 team.        

By +Joe Riollano 
Follow that Freak'n Puerto Rican @JoeRiollano