Going to extremes after the Panthers (3-8) edged the Colts (0-11) by a 27-19 score in Indianapolis:
Best Panther road trip in the past year: This one. The Panthers (3-8) don’t have much to choose from besides Indianapolis – they had lost 12 road games in a row until Sunday.
Worst tackle: Panther safety Sherrod Martin whiffed badly on Reggie Wayne’s 56-yard touchdown catch that got the Colts back into the game.
Best tiptoe: Martin then made the play of the game in the final minute, catching a deflected ball when Indianapolis had second-and-goal at the 3 and keeping his tiptoes just inside the back of the end zone to clinch the game for Carolina.
Worst near-calamity: The Panthers looked for a few moments like they were going to lose Greg Olsen in a pre-game collision when the tight end tried to chase down a long pass that Cam Newton had actually intended to throw to Seyi Ajirotutu. Olsen and Ajirotutu ran into each other and both stayed down for several minutes.
Best low-profile Cam game: Newton had a very efficient day, completing 20 of 27 passes for 208 yards and no touchdowns or interceptions. He also scored on a 14-yard rushing TD and never turned the ball over.
Best trend: The Panthers rushed the ball 35 times for 201 yards, which allowed them to control the time of possession (they held the ball more than 12 minutes more than the Colts).
Worst close-out: While the Panthers never trailed in this game, they kept letting Indianapolis back into it. The Panthers had two shots at closing the Colts out late in the fourth quarter but didn’t get a first down on either possession, which necessitated Martin and Chris Gamble making interceptions in the last five minutes to seal the win.
Best sack (Carolina): Charles Godfrey came on a safety blitz, faked out running back Joseph Addai and hit Curtis Painter from the blind side, causing a fumble.
Best sack (Indianapolis): Dwight Freeney might have been the first defensive end not to get fooled by Newton’s spin move all year, playing it perfectly and taking Newton down for a 20-yard loss.
Worst locker room teasing: It’s going to be coming to Panther kickoff returner Kealoha Pilares, who went 76 yards in the fourth quarter but was knocked out of bounds by the Colts’ kicker. In Pilares’ defense, he had hurt his quad on an earlier return.
Best lock: The Indianapolis Star is going to write a whole lot about Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck – the Colts’ likely pick at No.1 in the 2012 draft – between now and April. The Star had one of its writers ask Newton several questions about Luck, whom Newton called an “underrated athlete.”
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