But the Panthers beat the Rams up too, in more ways than one.
In a game marred by shoving, pushing, jawing, ejections, and even punching, the Panthers walked away bruised, but victorious, 30-15.
Quarterback Cam Newton continued his hot streak, with a stat line of 15-17, 204 yards and 1 touchdown. His two incompletions came on a Steve Smith dropped pass and an end of half heave. The other touchdowns came from a interception return for a touchdown by Captain Munnerlyn, and a short jaunt by Mike Tolbert. After this win, the Panthers have now beat opponents in their three wins by a combined score of 103-25.
Watching from afar, you can feel the electricity in Bank of America Stadium. The sizzle started on the very first play from scrimmage, when Ram quarterback Sam Bradford threw under duress into the waiting arms of Munnerlyn. A nifty return return later, the defense put the Panthers up 7-0 early.
The Rams struck back, pushing the ball down to the Panthers 1. The impressive Panthers defense stuffed them on 4th and goal, inches from the end zone. The crowd would be silenced, however, when on the very first play, Tolbert was tackled in the end zone for a safety, narrowing the margin to 7-2.
But the Panthers defense would have none of it. On the very next drive, the safety Mike MItchell forced Rams wide receiver Tavon Austin to fumble, recovered by Munnerlyn. The Panthers converts the turnover into points on a Gano field goal. making the score 10-2.
After the Rams kicked a field goal of their own, the Panthers responded, bleeding the clock all the way into halftime. But not without scoring. Tolbert rumbled for a 1 yard touchdown giving the Panthers a 17-5 lead at the half.
And that’s when the fun started.
In all began in the first drive of the second half, when Robert Quinn rushed and pancaked Newton on a read option play. He temporarily had the wind knocked out of him and even sat out a play. The team did not take too kindly to wounding of their leader. On the next play, a few Panthers got in the face of Quinn and kicked off a small melee. As the bodies converged, Chris Long threw a punch at offensive lineman Chris Scott. This led to Long’s ejection, and he was even kind enough to leave a parting gift, flipping the bird to Panthers fans in the end zone. Sadly, the emotional wave on the team and in the crowd was stunted, as Steve Smith only managed to take a Cam pass to the 1 yard line. Tolbert was stuffed twice at the goal line, and his personal foul backed them up to the 16 yard line for a 3rd and goal. They settled for a Graham Gano field goal.
The Rams struck "Quick," Brian Quick that is. On only 3 plays on the first drive after the scrum, the Rams scored a touchdown on a pass to running back Zac Stacy, bringing them within one score, 20-12.
From then on, the Panthers would dominate the rest of the game. On the ensuing drive, Newton found Smith, and he juked 2 Rams defenders for a swift touchdown, and putting them up, 27-12.
As if the game could get any more emotionally charged and any uglier, it did in the 4th quarter. On a Bradford scramble, Mitchell shoved him out of bounds (legally) and it resulted in the Rams captain and quarterback Bradford being removed from the game. Kellen Clemens relieved him, only to be ineffective and fumbling twice, sealing the game.
This Panthers team yet again, got the job done against another bad team, this time against a rough, chippy, talkative team in the Rams. It was nice to see them stand up, stick together, and physically beat another team. The Panthers are at a .500 record for the first time since Week 2 of last year, when they were 1-1 after beating the New Orleans Saints at home.
On a short week, the Carolina Panthers take their two game win streak on Thursday to Tampa Bay for their first divisional game of the year. The Buccaneers are trending the other way, as they have yet to win this year and are holding an 0-5 record.
Offense: Cam Newton, 15/17, 204 yards passing, 26 yards rushing, 1 passing TD
Defense: Mike Mitchell, 8 tackles, 1 sack, 2 forced fumbles
Panthers Who Starred
Panthers Who Struggled