Wearing a dapper suit and sporting a smile the size of Bank of America Stadium, Cam Newton summed up Sunday's game in one simple sentence "Everything felt like it clicked". To fans not only did it 'feel' like it, but it looked every bit of a team who offensively have put it all together. There are no longer any excuses around the NFL, the Panthers have put up huge offensive numbers on the league's best defenses, and even though this team is young and still growing together they are starting to look like the team we hope to become.
For a thousand reasons the Carolina Panthers needed this win as a team. They needed to believe they could take control of a game and assert their will. At halftime it looked like more of the same, a close game with the door left open and yet another situation where the Panthers could give the game away; except this time they didn't... they slammed the door shut.
For an NFL quarterback it's almost impossible to attain perfection, but Cam Newton came pretty close as he completed almost 80% of his passes without a turnover and along with Steve Smith the rookie and veteran combo left the vaunted Redskins' defense black and electric blue.
More after the jump
It wasn't just Steve Smith and Cam Newton who impressed on Sunday though, and despite the fact they were the deciding factor there were numerous other players who deserve some kudos.
Steve Smith- Extremely Optimistic What more can you say here? Smitty's play in 2011 has been unstoppable at the WR position. As it stands he's on pace for 1,869 receiving yards and that's more than anyone in the NFL. The clock has been turned back and it looks like 2005 again.
Cam Newton- Extremely Optimistic Again, what's more to say? All that's left to be done is tell you what he's on pace for. Well, he's already tied the NFL record for rushing TDs by a rookie QB, and will surely shatter that record. He's also one of only four QBs to have thrown for more than 2,000 yards and is on pace to finish with over 4,800 passing yards, that's more than 1,000 more than Peyton Manning's rookie passing record.
Offensive Line- Extremely Optimistic Cam had all day to throw and other than a couple of back sacks here or there overall it's hard to nit pick- they played great.
James Anderson- Extremely Optimistic He's really stepped up and assumed the leadership role among the linebackers, and that's helped stop the bleeding due to the lost of Beast and TD. On Sunday he had 10 tackles and a sack and was instrumental in keeping the Panthers organized.
Jonathan Stewart- Extremely Optimistic For much of the game he ran really well and ran with purpose... just an excellent game that helped keep Washington off balance.
Brandon LaFell- Somewhat Optimistic Probably deserves slightly better for his two critical receptions, but he just wasn't on the field a whole lot. We're seeing a more committed and dedicated player now, and it shows.
Antwan Applewhite- Somewhat Optimistic Like LaFell he probably deserves more praise, but given how little he was on the field it's hard to rate him higher.
Defensive Discipline- Extremely Pessimistic The Panthers need to get themselves together in this phase. Whether it's numerous offside calls, bad personal fouls or just stupid mental lapses there wasn't a lot of discipline from the defense. They're young, but this kind of play simply wont be sustainable.
Redskins fans in section 548- Extremely Mind Numbingly, God awfully, ludicrously, troglodyte-like Far be it from me to paint all fans with a wide brush, so I'm making sure I keep my focus here to just those moronic Redskins fans around me in section 548. Whether I was being told to 'sit down' on 3rd downs, or listening to any of their inane statements like "Jonathan Stewart wishes he was Tim Hightower" or "Beck is better than Newton" it was a comedy or errors from the boatload of fail roped in crimson.
A special shout out to the guy who yelled at me right before the LaFell touchdown. If by some bizarre happenstance you find this please know what an utter douche you are. Not only your stupid home made hat but more importantly you're hipster glasses and WAY too skinny jeans. Oh, and Patrick Swayze from Point Break called, he wants his hair back.
It looks like it will be the battle of rookie QBs next week as Cam Newton and the Panthers host Christian Ponder and the Vikings. If Carolina can stop Adrian Peterson then they can win, but that's a big ask. Until then I'm basking in a sweet Panthers victory, and laughing at those Redskins fans in 548 who left early.