Panthers vs. Buccaneers: Grades from Thursday's game

Al Messerschmidt

Cam Newton and Charles Johnson helped dominate both sides of the ball in a Panthers' victory.

The Carolina Panthers are poised for a playoff push following their dominant win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday night. 2013 is set to be one of the most dramatic halves to a season, even at just 4-3. The team's turnaround is on the back of the stellar play from a few excellent players -- including quarterback Cam Newton.

Player grades are out from Pro Football Focus, and there's not much to be disappointed in.

Three up

Jordan Gross (+5.2)

It wasn't long ago that fans had given up on the consistently-reliable Gross, confident that his best days were gone. While he might not move as fast or have elite strength, Gross remains one of the most technically sound tackles in the NFL.

Not only is he grading well for the Panthers, he's the second ranked left tackle in the entire NFL according to PFF's player grades.

Cam Newton (+2.8)

What more is there to say about the Panthers' quarterback? He was absolutely sensational on Thursday night, as he has been over the last three weeks. Accurate passing, good decision making and dangerous running is making him a triple threat teams will struggle to contend with moving forward.

Charles Johnson (+2.6)

It was a big day from CJ, registering a total of six pressures -- including two sacks. Here's hoping he'll be back from injury soon.

Three down

Luke Kuechly (-2.4)

This was Kuechly's worst game as a pro -- which is saying a lot in a relative shutout where he recorded five tackles. Good players have bad games, it happens. Nothing to harp on, just move forward.

Greg Olsen (-1.9)

Olsen's player grade is a paper tiger. It looks bad, but really all his negative grading game in blocking, which we know he struggled with anyway.

Greg Hardy (-1.5)

I can't make head nor tail of this grade. Hardy had two sacks and seven total pressures, but finished with a -1.5 grade is pass rushing. I plan to ask PFF why they graded him so low and will report back with the answer.

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