Plays to Love, Plays to Hate (aka "P2L, P2H") looks at the most significant plays in swinging momentum and impacting the eventual outcome of the game. There is always plenty to hate about NFL officiating, so we will only focus on the plays on the field, not the refs.
Three Plays to Love
The Situation: The Rams offense was shut out in the first quarter and had crossed midfield to begin the second quarter.
The Play: Brian Quick lined up wide right with James Bradberry in man coverage. Quick put a double move on Bradberry, and the Panthers rookie corner completely bit on the action leaving Quick to sprint wide open down the sideline. Safety Tre Boston came on a very late blitz, leaving no help over the top for Bradberry. But fortunately for the Panthers, Case Keenum simply overthrew the wide-open Quick on what should have been a relatively easy 48-yard touchdown and a 7-7 tie. Instead of the score, the Rams were forced to punt.
2nd Quarter 3:15 – Panthers 7, Rams 0. Rams ball 4th-and-1 on CAR 38
The Situation: The Rams were just outside of field goal range and decided to go for it on 4th-and-1.
The Play: Needing just one yard, the Rams handed off to Todd Gurley right up the middle. Kawann Short got a good push to collapse the line as A.J. Klein and Luke Kuechly burst through from the linebacker spot. Klein and Kuechly combined to stop Gurley for a one yard loss and a turnover on downs, killing the Rams drive before Los Angeles could get into scoring position.
3rd Quarter :13 – Panthers 7, Rams 0. Rams ball 2nd-and-7 on LA 43
The Situation: The Rams were still trailing 7-0 as the third quarter was winding down, but their offense was showing signs of life on a seven-play drive nearing midfield.
The Play: Case Keenum looked to pass as Thomas Davis dropped into coverage. Davis saw TE Tyler Higbee break toward the sideline on an out route, and Davis sat underneath the route, baiting Keenum to make the throw. Keenum tried to throw the ball over Davis’ head to Higbee, but Davis read the play perfectly and made a leaping interception. TD’s pick also gave the struggling Panthers offense good starting field position at the Carolina 45, setting up an eventual field goal and a 10-0 Panthers lead.
Three Plays to Hate
2nd Quarter :56 – Panthers 7, Rams 0. Panthers ball 2nd-and-10 on LA 21
The Situation: With the end of the first half approaching, the Panthers looked to add at least a field goal to their 7-0 lead after driving down to the Los Angeles 21.
The Play: Call this an entire sequence to hate…On 2nd-and-10 from the LA 21, Mike Remmers was called for a hold, pushing the ball back to the 31. On the next play, Ed Dickson was wide open over the middle for at least a 10-yard gain, but Cam’s pass was slightly off, low and away. The ball was still probably catchable, but Dickson couldn’t hold on. Bad play by both Newton and Dickson. The holding penalty and failed pass resulted in a 48-yard field goal attempt, which a shaky Graham Gano missed wide right. Just a terrible couple of plays to take points off the board.
3rd Quarter 12:15 – Panthers 7, Rams 0. Panthers ball 1st-and-10 on LA 44
The Situation: Carolina started the third quarter with a good drive that had crossed midfield, looking to add to their tenuous 7-0 lead.
The Play: Devin Funchess had just hauled in a 28-yard catch-and-run. Funch now lined up wide left and faced man coverage. Funchess ran a double move and fooled the cornerback, leaving Funchess at least two steps ahead of the defender as he streaked down the sideline. But Cam Newton launched yet another errant pass, overthrowing his receiver for what should have been a 44-yard touchdown and a 14-0 lead. Cam was spraying the ball all over the field today, and this was perhaps his most impactful misfire.
4th Quarter :34 – Panthers 13, Rams 3. Rams ball 4th-and-Goal on CAR 10
The Situation: The Rams faced fourth down with less than a minute to play. Los Angeles was down 10 points, so they needed both a touchdown and a field goal for a miraculous comeback. The Rams decided to gamble and go for the TD.
The Play: Kenny Britt lined up wide right with James Bradberry in man coverage. Britt ran a simple out route toward the pylon. Bradberry just gave up too much of a cushion and could not close fast enough as Britt hauled in the pass for a late TD, cutting Panthers lead to 13-10. Fortunately, the Rams decided to execute one of the worst "surprise" onside kicks in NFL history, which was easily recovered by the Panthers to end the game.
Closing It Out & Summing It Up
The Panthers pulled off their second straight win to improve to 3-5 on the year, but man what a BORING game to watch. Unless, that is, that you enjoy missed field goals, errant throws, dropped passes, terrible blocking, two-yard runs, and punts o’ plenty.
But major props to Thomas Davis. TD not only had the big interception, but he also had a huge second quarter sack to push the Rams out of field goal range. In all TD recorded 11 tackles on the day.
Mario Addison also looked great with two sacks and another tackle for a loss.
The major concern continues to be Cam Newton’s lack of touch and accuracy. Cam went 20-for-32 (63%), which looks fine on paper, but he missed a lot of open receivers. On several of his completions he failed to hit receivers in stride, forcing them to dive for receptions rather than getting yards after the catch.
The blocking from Carolina’s offensive line was abysmal. Jonathan Stewart had nowhere to run, gaining just 42 yards on 15 carries (2.8 YPC), and Cam Newton got sacked another five times. Michael Oher and Ryan Kalil need to get healthy, and quick, if the Panthers want to continue this winning streak and pull off a miraculous run to the playoffs.
"P2L, P2H" Season Leaders
Plays to Love Year-to-Date:
4 "PTL" – Cam Newton, Thomas Davis
3 "PTL" – Kelvin Benjamin, Kurt Coleman
2 "PTL" – Andy Lee, Star Lotulelei
1 "PTL" – A.J. Klein, Bene Benwikere, Cameron Artis-Payne, Charles Johnson, Corey Brown, Devin Funchess, Greg Olsen, Jonathan Stewart, Kawann Short, Kony Ealy, Kyle Love, Lavar Edwards, Luke Kuechly, Shaq Thompson, Robert McClain, Vernon Butler
Plays to Hate Year-to-Date:
4 "PTH" – Cam Newton
3 "PTH" – Kurt Coleman
2 "PTH" – Bene Benwikere, Daryl Worley, Derek Anderson, Graham Gano, James Bradberry
1 "PTH" – Colin Jones, Ed Dickson, Jonathan Stewart, Kelvin Benjamin , Kony Ealy, Leonard Johnson, Luke Kuechly, Michael Oher, Mike Remmers, Ryan Kalil, Ted Ginn, Zack Sanchez