At this point in the season, the Panthers bringing in even an ugly victory against the Jaguars is still right where they want to be. Arizona in week 1 was a toss up and at that time nobody could conceive that Cam would be so explosive starting at QB. Green Bay was a long shot and the Panthers, yet again, proved they could keep up with the pace. The Panthers were not supposed to win those games, but came extremely close. This game, however, was not just an expected victory, but a must win both for morale and progress. They are still in line to compete for the 3rd position in the NFC south and the only team looking out of reach so far are the New Orleans Saints.
This season was never meant to be the comeback year and things do not look likely for that to happen… yet. Cam Newton’s record breaking first two weeks were not a fluke and not to be taken lightly. That was apparent with the tight coverage and pressure the Jaguars defense put on Newton all game. Cam certainly can put up 400 yards in a game, but those numbers were sacrificed for a win in Sunday’s match up against Jacksonville.
Cam threw for a less than average 158 yards and 1 TD and picked up 27 yards on the ground. Definitely not the most notable performance from a guy that has already thrown for over 1,000 yards and 4 TD’s. We all knew this day would come and I for one am glad it was against a struggling Jags team and not a division rival. Not to mention the sky opened up in the second quarter to tilt the scales drastically in favor of a team with a focus on the run game. 4 inches of rain in less than an hour is sure to put a halt in any passing game, even for some of the best in the game. Cam’s not there yet, but like a true pro, he got it when it counted in the last 5 minutes of the 4th quarter with a TD pass to Greg Olsen to regain the lead.
Obviously, this was not Cam’s day. This was the day that the fans have really been looking for. The day of the D. For a defense that has been trying to establish its identity they came up big when the offense wasn’t getting the job done. Both DE’s Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy got a sack (Hardy’s was for a safety), Richie Brockel brought down K Matt Turk to force a turnover on downs in Carolina territory, Jordan Pugh forced a fumble, Sherrod Martin got a big INT in the 2nd quarter to halt a crucial Jag drive, and Thomas Williams made the game ending block on a deep pass that was sure to be completed. Very consistent and tough playing by the defense that deserves the credit for the victory almost more than the game winning TD.
About the only offensive highlight for the Panthers, other than the TD, was the 2-point conversion that followed. The rest of the game was all defense and several different players showed up. The Jaguars offense is not the most feared in the league, but their run game is respectable and Blaine Gabbert made a decent showing for his first NFL start. The Panthers were without Jon Beason, Thomas Davis, Charles Godfrey, and Chris Gamble missed the second half of the game after going down late in the 2nd quarter. This meant that the back ups had to make plays and they did. This was a great win for the defense that will be extremely important as they head to Soldier Field next week to take on Coach Rivera’s and Greg Olsen’s old team, the Chicago Bears.