The offense was decidedly more vanilla that anything we saw last year, and perhaps more bland than expected. Chalk it up to preseason if you want, but Cam Newton was asked to throw in the 8-12 yard range -- and nothing more. This isn't a good distance for him, as Newton finished 3-6 with a short touchdown to Brandon LaFell, and an embarrasing pick-six to a wide open linebacker, as Cam stared down Greg Olsen.
Carolina's much maligned offensive line was a mixed bag. As expected they looked a lot better in run blocking, but there were times interior pressure forced rushed throws. One particularly damaging play saw Newton hussled by three linemen, rushing a sideline throw to Greg Olsen which was dropped.
The defense, on the other hand, was spectacular. Josh Norman opened the game with an impressive interception of Jay Cutler, while the defensive line was as good as advertised. Charles Johnson got a sack, Greg Hardy was close, and Star Lotulelei gave the interior offensive line headaches. Pair this with Luke Kuechly who was flying all over the field, and they really were that good.
There were two Armanti Edwards sightings also! An impressive 21 yard catch in which he lost his defensive back, and easily made the reception -- followed up with another catch. He finished with a total of 38 yards receiving in the half.
Kenjon Barner's first touch was inauspicious, as he fumbled on the first sign on contact in a very Joe Adams-esque fashion. It's too early for him to get in the dog house, but he'll really need to get better. Luckily he settled down, and improved as the game went on -- culminating with a 5-yard touchdown run. The same can't be said for Derek Anderson, who was atrocious.