The Carolina Panthers used a lot of skill and a touch of luck to get past the New England Patriots on Monday Night Football. Now we have the player grades from PFF to show where the team went right and wrong in its individual matchups.
Cam Newton was very good, finishing with a positive grade but he didn't crack the top three list due to some stellar individual performances.
Jordan Gross (+5.5)
Gross had the most difficult task of the day: Blocking Chandler Jones. The second-year pass rusher had to move to the left side to get a sack working against Byron Bell, and Gross didn't surrender a single pressure against the Patriots.
Sometimes a down year is just that. Carolina' stalwart left tackle has been the team's offensive MVP this season, allowing just 20 total pressures and finishing with the highest overall grade on the team (+22.3). His contract was reworked to keep him in Charlotte one more year, but the team needs to have another discussion about keeping Gross on the team longer than expected.
Kawann Short (+3.6)
It's been an up-and-down year for Kawann Short, but he was sensational against the Patriots. He generated a hit, hurry and run stop -- making himself a vital anchor of the defense. He played his role perfectly, and that's what's most exciting.
Robert Lester (+2.2)
Be still my beating heart. A second rookie on the list. It's an odd set of circumstances that a lack of depth at safety brought the potential answer to Carolina. If the Panthers were set at the position Lester likely wouldn't have signed as an undrafted free agent, so I guess we should thank the front office for not stacking the position sooner.
Melvin White (-4.7)
I don't want to rail on a young guy for one bad game. White will be okay, but he's clearly and rookie and made rookie mistakes.
Richie Brockel (-2.6)
This was largely due to poor lead blocking. He didn't see a lot of snaps on Monday, but it's clear the Patriots watched the film on how to stop Carolina's running backs. They couldn't do a thing against New England.
Wes Horton (-2.6)
It's a good think Charles Johnson is okay, because Horton was terrible. It will be interesting to see if this game is enough to remove Frank Alexander from the doghouse and swap him out with Wes.