Where have these Panthers been all year?
The game started in classic 2016 Panthers fashion, with a promising first drive ending in a field goal. However, the defense continued it’s strong play with a three and out. The Panthers put up one of their own before the Redskins tied the game with a field goal of their own. The Panthers answered that with a long passing touchdown to Ted Ginn. I still don’t quite understand what happened on that play, but Redskins safety Donte Whitner allowed Ginn behind the secondary and didn’t do much to try and recover before it was too late. The Panthers then took the ball back with a beautiful interception by Kurt Coleman that resulted in another Panthers field goal. Both teams then traded punts before the Redskins delivered a touchdown of their own with a Rob Kelley touchdown run. The half ended with two more punts.
The second half started badly for the Redskins, as Wes Horton pushed the left tackle into Kirk Cousins, forcing a fumble that he also recovered on the one yard line. The Panthers took advantage with a pass to Mike Tolbert for another TD. The Panthers dominated the rest of the second half, adding two more field goals to match the Redskins two. The Skins last drive ended with a fumble forced by Kyle Love to cap off yet another strong Panthers defensive performance.
- The Panthers defense dominated the line of scrimmage all game, allowing a measly 29 yards rushing despite a rushing TD by Kelley. They forced the Redskins to be one dimensional, and while it didn’t result in a whole lot of sacks it did help a passing defense that is still developing. The Panthers defense is built with a focus on the front seven as the foundation, and tonight is what you want to see. Also remember, they did this without Luke Kuechly or Charles Johnson.
- On the flip side, the Panthers running game flourished. Jonathan Stewart delivered a 25 carry, 132 yard effort. This opened up the play action passing game and helped keep Newton upright for a 300 yard passing effort. Another strong effort by the offensive line, who are still missing two starters.
- Ted Ginn put in another solid performance and another long passing TD. About all you can ask from the guy. Seriously, re-sign him next season. Thanks.
- James Bradberry put in another strong showing. He didn’t light up the stat sheet, but he made some nice plays and didn’t break against a Redskins offense featuring some high octane weapons. Daryl Worley also did well. Both are coming along nicely.
- Graham Gano: 4 kicks, several touch backs. He did miss one kick, but I think I can give him a pass after openly stating that he had problems kicking on their field. He’s been much better since coming to Carolina so that story probably has some merit.
- This game was a lot closer than it should have been. The red zone offense should have been able to capitalize with the success of the rushing game during this one.
- Josh Norman didn’t do much during this game, and dropped an interception. Wait... He doesn’t play here anymore. Oops.
Not a bad win to theoretically keep the Panthers in the playoff hunt. It’s super highly unlikely that they will, but after all the talk about Norman over the offseason it was nice to see the Panthers play well against him and win, also likely sticking a fork in the Redskins playoff hopes. You’re welcome Lions.
Next week the Panthers get the Falcons on Saturday afternoon. They will look to keep their weird December winning percentage high in a game that is a must win for any chance of a crazy playoff berth. Keep Pounding everybody!