Panthers Win Against Saints
The Saints have issues. They lost last week to rookie QB Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins. That could be a fluke, as the young quarterback had a top 5 QB debut. A loss to a fellow 0-1 team, which lost previously to the percieved 4th place in the division Tampa Bay Bucs, might be a trend for the 2010 Super Bowl Champs.
As far as Panthers fans go, the Saints problems are the Panthers gains. Then again, it could just be the Panthers had a much better game than the Saints. Whatever you think, the confluence of events led to the Panthers first win, which it needed badly to keep the trajectory of the season on course.
All the players you would want to have a good game, had one. Cam Newton had his best day rushing the ball so far, no interceptions, 70% completion rate. Deangello Williams and Jonathan Stewart combined for 120 yards rushing. Newton, Williams, Stewart and Tolbert all had touchdowns. The defense played well, picking off Drew Brees on two occasions, both being large parts of the game, one a score for Charles Godfrey and the other ending the game when Jon Beason intercepted one of his final desperation shots down the field.
If you’re a fan, you want stars and rookies to play well. Joe Adams played well in the return game. Silatau had a good day on the offensive line. Kuechley is showing he’s human but didn’t have a bad day. Josh Norman is proving to be a steal playing in the defensive backfield, with some nice broken up passes and finishing second on the team in tackles behind Godfrey. Now, you wouldn’t normally want your defensive backfield to lead the team in tackles but they did well enough to hold the Saints under 30. Frank Alexander was part of the defensive front that bothered Brees all day.
That was the defining factor for me. The constant struggle for Brees to stay within passing lanes and upright within the pocket was key to the Carolina victory. He was never comfortable, never able to set and fire with that legendary accuracy. He did gouge the Panthers for 325 passing yards, many in undernieth passes to Darren Sproles or mid-range passes to his superstar tightend Jimmy Graham but he never was able to get in a real rhythm and they only worked for one touchdown to Graham. While there were no sacks, it was definitely the pass rush that set up the Panthers for success.
The offense was clicking with big plays to Steve Smith and Brandon LaFell, who ended up with 6 catches for 90 yards. Smith gave us all a bit of a scare leaving the game on a cart but it turns out it was just cramps and he returned to the game.
It was a good all around victory, but you can’t leave out the facts that the Saints are down some important pieces. One being their head coach, Sean Payton and their second option at head coach Joe Vitt. The other, although he was on the sideline, is their defensive captain Johnathan Vilma. The Saints are a bit out of sorts at the moment. Despite their two losses, they’re still a very good team. They just can’t quite get it all together on the field. The Observer even poked a little fun with their headline: ”Panthers right ship, claim bounty: A win vs. Saints”
Regardless of the reasons, the Panthers got the win and got their business together. They weren’t perfect but they were better than the competition. With the youth and inexperience (coaching especially), that’s all you can really hope for right now.