The last couple of weeks, the Carolina Panthers have looked to Steve Smith to make plays and get their offense rolling. On Sunday against the Cleveland Browns, Smith was the go to guy early, but the key to this 20-9 win was a defense that toyed with the Browns all day. Julius Peppers will likely be up for NFC Defensive Player of the week after his outing against the Browns. While the numbers do not really stand out (3 tackles, 1 assist, a sack and a fumble recovery), his performance was outstanding. Against Ryan Tucker, Peppers ran over him all day, using pure strength to overpower the Browns linemen. Peppers and the defense were in the backfield all day, making hits on Ruben Droughns, and taking him and the Browns running game out of the contest. Carolina held the Browns to 98 rushing yards.
Charlie Frye, who the week before came back with three TD’s vs Raiders, was pushed around all day, and the only reason he was able to get past 100 yards through the air was due to the Panthers being up come garbage time in the 4th quarter by 14 points. At one point in the game, the Browns offense went as follows – Int, punt, punt, punt, punt, fumble, punt. Those are the type of games that makes a D-coordinator pround, and on this day, the Panthers had a lot of be proud about.
The next two games for Carolina are on the road, and against two of the best in the AFC North – Baltimore and Cincy. The offense seemed a bit out of step, but did score 20 points, which on this day with the way the defense played was more than enough. Now we’ll see if Sunday’s performance against the Browns can carry over on the road for what is going to be a very tough next two games.