Panthers Withstand Rally to Beat Giants
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Carolina Panthers reached 14-0 by defending the Giantsâ€™ furious rally in the 4th quarter, winning 38-35. Carolina has now won 18 consecutive regular season games with only 2 more to go before the playoffs.
Cam Newton is now undoubtedly the league MVP. Today he put up 340 yards through the air, 100 on the ground, notched 5 TDs, and led the offense up the field with the clock winding down to allow Graham Gano to kick the game-winning field goal. No player has ever put up those rushing and passing statistics in a game before. He is a lock for the award.
The game mimicked the close wins against the Packers and the Colts that the Panthers pulled out earlier in the year. The Panthers go up big early, surrender the large lead, then make a play or two to come away victorious.
The Beckham-Norman matchup was the hot topic of the game, as the two scuffled seemingly every time they matched up across one another. Norman kept the young phenom in check for most of the game, but gave up a big TD catch to tie the game late in the 4th. Beckham also dropped an easy TD lob in the first quarter after burning Norman on a double move.
Eli Manning is a proven streak-killer, sporting 2 Super Bowl rings from squads with low expectations of winning it all. The quarterback played well against the formidable Panthersâ€™ D, but couldnâ€™t outshoot Newton. Carolinaâ€™s defense had no answers for the Giantsâ€™ offense late in the game and needs to figure out how to stop potent, hungry offenses going forward.
The Panthers have looked absolutely outstanding for the majority of the season, dominating the turnover ratio and putting up large amounts of points. However, these runs by the Giants, Packers, and Colts are certainly concerning. The defense canâ€™t stop anything and the offense sputters to a halt in these stretches where the Panthers play is flat out lazy.
Games like today against the Giants are enigmatic. On one hand, itâ€™s concerning that the Panthers could allow a team to tie the game after being up 28 late in the 3rd. On the other hand, itâ€™s relieving that the Panthers can engineer late game drives to seal a win. Great teams are consistent and the Panthers need to work on that.
Carolinaâ€™s defense needs to improve on sealing victories and not allowing pass-happy offenses beat them through the air. The unit has been fantastic at forcing turnovers, but could improve on yards allowed. Rashad Jenningâ€™s 38-yard touchdown run up the gut was a perfect example of how the defense sometimes finds themselves in a lull.
Although Ginn dropped another breadbasket go-route pass, he made up for his frustrating inconsistency by hauling in 2 TDs and 85 yards. Newton spread the ball around effectively to his receivers. Olsen had 79 yards and a TD; Corey Brown had 51 yards and a TD; Cotchery had 47 yards; Funchess had 30 yards and a TD.
The Panthers are still in contention for a perfect season and only the division rivals Falcons and Buccaneers stand in their way. The Panthers dominated the Falcons last week in a 38-0 win and defeated the Bucs 37-23 in week 4. A 16-0 season is well within reach for the Panthers, but Rivera would be smart to bench starters to avoid injuries.
A perfect season isnâ€™t the final goal for the Panthers. They want a trip to Santa Clara to play in the Super Bowl. At times, they are twice as good as the next best NFL team, but at others they get whooped by worse teams. If the Panthers find consistency, they could easily take home the franchiseâ€™s first Lombardi trophy.