Here we go -- the traditional "5 things I liked" postgame blog about Carolina's 16-6 win over Tampa Bay.
1. Panthers' red-zone defense. LB Jon Beason was outstanding, with two interceptions right at the goal line just when it looked like Tampa Bay was about to score. But he wasn't alone -- the Panthers picked rookie QB Josh Freeman off five times. Five! I thought only Jake Delhomme ever threw five picks per game in this stadium.
2. Matt Moore. Not asked to do a whole lot more than manage the game, Moore did that effectively (14-for-20, 161 yards, 1 interception, 0 TDs). Coach John Fox termed Moore's overall effort "pretty good," and that was about right. Fox also said there was a "good" chance Moore will start again next week at New England, which will be a whole lot tougher foe and venue than 1-11 Tampa Bay.
3. Jonathan Stewart. Without the injured DeAngelo Williams, the rushing attack was no longer "Double Trouble," but it was still a lot of trouble for Tampa Bay. Stewart ran for 120 yards on 26 carries -- much more than his usual workload -- and scored Carolina's only TD. The offensive line helped out, but Stewart got a lot of those yards after contact.
4. Jason Baker. Carolina's punter boomed a bunch of them and ended up with a net of 45.6 on five punts, helping to win the field-position battle.
5. True football fans. Kudos to everyone showed up on a cold December day when it was only 43 degrees and the opponent was the woeful Bucs. The scalpers took a beating on this one -- if I saw one person with a fistful of tickets desperately trying to unload them 30 minutes before kickoff, I saw 50. There were probably 25,000 no-shows if the Panthers gave us an actual turnstile count. But that still leaves close to 50,000 true football fans who showed up, and if you were one of those, I salute you.
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