Panther Paw Prints: Going to Waffle House Edition

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Here's a few Panther related links from around the web.

It's not as many links as usual because all anyone wanted to talk about was the controversy surrounding the final play of the game.

Let's start with the game MVP who surprised the media with his location selection for celebrating the victory:

Cam Newton celebrated MNF win at Waffle House - ESPN
"I went to Waffle House,'' Newton said Wednesday, two days after the 24-20 victory over the Patriots extended Carolina's winning streak to six games. "Popped orange juices.'' Not that there are a lot of late-night food options in Charlotte on a Monday night. Even so, you have to like that Newton picked a place famous for serving food that is "Scattered (spread on the grill), smothered (with onions), covered (with cheese), chunked (with diced ham), peppered (with jalapeno peppers), capped (with mushrooms) and topped (with chili).''

I'd be lying if said I have never graced the Waffle late night and munched out. BTW, I like mine scattered, smothered, covered and chunked.

Not to be outdone, give Bojangles credit for recognizing a marketing opportunity when they see it.

Carolina Panthers WR Steve Smith's 'Ice up, son' comment to Aqib Talib honored by Bojangles - NFL News | FOX Sports on MSN

Talib, who was sidelined for the last few weeks with a hip injury, was out for the last few plays of the game, and Smith made sure to touch on that fact during his postgame interview. When Smith was asked what went down between him and Talib early on in the game, the receiver responded with, "I don’t know, you gotta ask him because he didn’t finish the game. Ice up, son!"

Another instant classic from Smitty! In case you haven't seen it (but I bet you have) here's the video:

Here's my one link about the final play, the VP of officiating agreeing with the ref's call:

Dean Blandino, NFL's vice president of officiating, supports refs' decision - ESPN Boston
"The issue isn't the contact [between Kuechly and Gronkowski], the issue is the restriction and does it occur prior to the ball being touched," Blandino explained Tuesday during his segment on the NFL Network. "At full speed the officials made a tight judgment call and they determined that the restriction occurred just as the ball was being touched [by Panthers safety Robert Lester]. Again, at full speed you can see why they made that call."

Enough said on that topic. If my word isn't good enough that we now need to move on, will you take it from RR:

Want to discuss MNF game? Not around the Panthers - ESPN
"That's the way it is,'' Rivera said. "If they look at it any other way, and that's the reason why, then I didn't do a good enough job. So I'm not going to allow it. "When we were in that team meeting room I told them, 'Get past it. People want to talk about what happened Monday night, it ain't going to change. Talk all you want, it's not going to change."

Here's the play everyone really should really be talking, Newton's 14 yard scramble that was actually 75 yards in actual running. Here's what Mike Shula had to say when he sees Newton do things like that:

Newton's 14-yard run worth one more look - Carolina Panthers Blog - ESPN

"No,'' he said in a more serious tone. "You kind of shake your head, because it's nothing you did as a play caller. You're just happy he's on your side doing it.''

Exactly...just be glad he's wearing electric blue and black. Here's something else we should feel lucky about:

Carolina Panthers defensive end Charles Johnson may be long shot - ESPN
"We're very fortunate,'' he said on Wednesday. "We really are. He sprained it, and we'll see as each day goes on [if he can play]. We'll re-evaluate after three days to see how he's reacting to the treatment.'' An MRI taken on Tuesday revealed the sprain that Johnson actually played on in the final series. "He was relieved,'' Rivera said. "He really was, and I'm very happy for him. He's playing very well right now. He's playing about as well as any defensive end in this league.''

My guess is Johnson doesn't play Sunday or maybe even the next as the Panthers decide to ensure he is ready for the Saints road trip.

If you are worried about the fact the Panthers failed to run the ball effectively against a Patriots defense that wasn't supposed to be very good against the run, Ron Rivera isn't worried:

Struggles with running game don’t worry Panthers’ Ron Rivera |
"They did a nice job with that, they made it tough for us," Rivera said. "We still rushed for 100 yards – the quarterback had a big part in that – but we tried to run the football, we tried to run it the way we wanted to run it. They had a plan, remember they had two weeks to prepare, and Coach (Bill) Belichick and his staff did a nice job preparing for us."

That is a very good point about the Pats extra time to prepare for the Panthers.

If the lack of respect given to Cam Newton earlier in the season bothers you then this statement should make you happy:

NFC South title within grasp of streaking, karma-rich Panthers
"New Orleans better not slip up because Carolina is coming, and Cam is the real deal," Hall of Fame tight end Shannon Sharpe told USA TODAY Sports. "Cam was RG3, Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson before any of those three. "He's starting to become the Cam Newton that everybody knew he could be and he wants to be."

Newton just needed to cut his teeth and now we are seeing the player we envisioned when he was drafted. Along those lines I close out with a link from the Patriots blog that also sends some high praise Newton's way:

Coping With Loss: Carolina Panthers Division - Pats Pulpit
Any other quarterback.... Against virtually any other quarterback in the NFL, the Patriots would have won this game. Multiple times they had Cam Newton dead to rights in the backfield, only to have him scramble like only he can and extend the play. You can't prepare for that kind of threat, even with a backup QB as elusive and athletic as Ryan Mallett running the prep team. Newton pretty much won this game on his own by extending plays and making smart decisions - which is exactly why the Panthers drafted him first overall. That isn't something New England is likely to face again this year, and it's the kind of thing that, when done well, is virtually impossible to prepare for.

Nobody is calling him lucky anymore...the kid is just good.

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