Sunday, December 18, 2011

Panthers finally win a big one

Carolina got its biggest win of the season Sunday at Houston, avoiding the second-half blahs just enough to win, 28-13, on the road against a team that has already clinched a playoff berth. (Here's my column about the victory and what it means).

One more link, too: Here is a "Scott Says" I wrote for the newspaper about Jeremy Shockey ripping the Houston Texans for their national anthem etiquette.

The Panthers were up 21-0 at halftime. Houston creamed Carolina in the third quarter to cut the lead to 21-13. But the game's key drive came after that, when Carolina went 80 yards in seven plays to take a 28-13 lead with 9:54.

After James Anderson stopped Houston's next march by intercepting rookie T.J. Yates in the end zone, Carolina ran out the game's final 7:25 with "downhill football," as left tackle Jordan Gross called it. They went from their own 3 to the Houston 28 to end the game convincingly.

This is the sort of game that should give any Panther fan hope for 2012. Yes, the Texans are down to their third-string QB, who had two bad picks Sunday. But the Texans still had the NFL's No.1-rated defense, and Carolina shredded it for four TDs. Newton didn't have a turnover -- the Panthers are now 5-0 when he doesn't and 0-9 when he does -- and even a trick-play handoff through the legs to Richie Brockel worked for a seven-yard TD.

If Carolina had lost yet another big lead -- after blowing a 16-point margin to Atlanta and a 17-point lead at Detroit -- this could have been awful for the team's confidence. Instead, the Panthers got what is easily their biggest win since 2009.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

From the Gaston Gazette (a better outlook):

Panthers make their statement
December 18, 2011 4:54 PM

The Carolina Panthers have seen the mountaintop. For this recovering NFL franchise, Sunday’s 28-13 victory over the Houston Texans was a significant step, perhaps even a clear portent of things to come.

One of football’s great oddities is that teams first learn to compete and then to win. Newton and his mates have been exciting to watch all year. If ever a losing season could be described as pleasant and uplifting, this is it.

The Panthers (5-9) have led at one time or another in every game save one. The Tennessee Titans — yes, the Titans who lost in lowly Indianapolis — crushed the Panthers, 30-3, on Nov. 11. Otherwise, they’ve lost by three to New Orleans, five to Chicago (back when the Bears still had a few healthy players) and seven to Green Bay. They’ve played with the big boys but not beaten them.

It’s very important that the Panthers learn to win in 2011, the better for 2012. The victory in Houston raises expectations. Ron Rivera has given his quarterback a team, and Newton knows how to use it.

This time Carolina sealed the deal. This time when a quality team applied the pressure, the Panthers responded in kind. They weathered the storm, turned back the rally and fulfilled the promise of several other familiar clich├ęs.

Newton was brilliant, but flawed, at the get-go. Another team, one with fewer offensive weapons with which to surround him, might have left Newton shell-shocked and fragile after the 14th of a 16-game season. The effect of the season has been to polish, not sand-blast, him.

Anonymous said...

#correction
Yates is not 3rd string. 2nd. You can't call Matt Leinart 2nd string.

Anonymous said...

Still haven't beat a team with a decent quarterback.

Anonymous said...

'Still haven't beaten...' You haters are just too much. Go away.

Sportsdon said...

Finally got some turnovers that the defense created! Thats what has been missing all along.

Adie Andrews said...

That was pretty good game for Carolina and without any doubts the deserve this victory.
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