If you were there for the open game thread and read my comments during and since the game ended you know I've been critical of Cam Newton's performance. I think everyone has, included Newton himself. Let me be clear I have only and will continue to only critique his performance. I'm not drawing any broad conclusions about the offense, the GM even the franchise based on a game that could have been a win if only a couple plays had gone differently.
My first GIF is Cam's very first pass, an incompletion to Steve Smith which at the time I said 'That's not a good sign':
I thought Cam should have put a little more zip on this ball but overall this is simply a drop by Smitty. Smith ended up being a non-factor in this game and in hindsight it still seemed this play set the tone for the day. Is it just me or does Smitty seem to get too distracted jawing with the opposition? Every time I hear the announcer say 'There's a scuffle on the field..." I don't need to see who it is. You know Smitty is in the middle of it.
This next pass occurred on the Panthers second possession, 3rd and 6, 9 minutes left in the 1st quarter and is one of three passes Newton could of had picked off:
That might be one of his worst passes ever and you can't blame that one of anyone but Cam. Punt!
Now with 2:08 left in the 2nd quarter, 3rd and 4 from the Panthers 15 yard line he throws this pass out in front of J-Stew::
It's hard to see from this angle how much in front of J-Stew the pass was but he didn't seem to lunge for it and
could have, make that should have used two hands. I'm not sure Stewart makes the first down even if he does catch it but at least he would have a chance. Fortunately Seahawks DE Chris Clemmons is flagged for a late hit on Newton to extend the drive. Regardless I put this one Stewart.
Now with 7:02 in the 3rd quarter facing 2nd and 13 Newton again struggles to hit the check down:
Upon review I have to again say this is a catchable ball that Stewart should have brought in. Being only 2nd down he would have made at least 5-7 yards and set up a 3rd and short and instead of 3rd long. Creating 3rd and shorts vs. 3rd and longs was one of my keys to the game, a key that came to fruition.
Finally, we have the nail in the coffin. In spite of how bad the offense had performed to this point the Panthers still had a chance to take the lead with less than 4 minutes on the clock. Newton rolled right and had a wide open Ben Hartsock in the end zone. Instead, I think Greg Olsen's body language after the pass says it all.
So though I've been focused solely on blaming Cam Newton or this loss, I think I had said 90% was his, he obviously got let down by his receivers and his offensive line. So I'm willing to say it was 55% Newton.
So as to not be a complete Debbie Downer here's couple good GIFs to celebrate if you are ready. First up, special teams created a turnover!
Jason Phillips causes it and Josh Thomas was Johnie on the spot to recover it.
This last one is for BW and all the Captain Munnerlyn supporters. The kid makes a really nice break on the ball and uses his left hand to snare the ball from the receiver. Of course, he then puts an exclamation point on it by scoring:
Easily the play of the game, don't even need to take a vote.