Entering this week’s contest against the San Diego Chargers, the Carolina Panthers stood at 4-8; a far cry from the 12-0 record they had amassed this time last year. It would be easy for the team to tuck their tails between their legs and look to next season.
The Panthers came out and showed that there is plenty of football left to play this season with a 28-16 win over the Philip Rivers-led Chargers. While the offense was not as impressive as they would have hoped, stellar defensive effort kept the Panthers in excellent field position.
The Panthers defense forced the Chargers, who entered the game as the NFL’s fifth-best scoring offense, into committing five turnovers and recorded five sacks. Daryl Worley and Shaq Thompson recorded their first career interceptions with Worley’s takeaway leading to a Carolina TD scoring drive. Kurt Coleman added the final interception with a little over four minutes remaining in the game. Linebacker AJ Klein and defensive tackle Kawann Short added a couple of fumbles to round out a solid defensive effort.
Quarterback Cam Newton spoke of the offense needing to have a “killer instinct”. Offensively, the Panthers looked modest at best, accounting for only two touchdowns. Gano booted four field goals and the defense recorded a fourth quarter safety. Newton completed 10-of-27 passes for a total of 160 yards and one touchdown; and the team amassed 126 yards on the ground.
We have to put up points. Points as in touchdowns. If we do that, that game is out-of-hand early. That’s what imposing our will is.
Newton acknowledges that “winning sweeps a lot of things and a lot of feelings under the rug”. The statement is accurate as it cannot be ignored that the Panthers have struggled all season to maintain offensive efficiency in the second half. It will be interesting to see if they can find some answers in the last three games of the season.
The Panthers will face the Washington Redskins in a Monday Night Football contest on December 19.