Sunday, October 20, 2013
Six things I liked about Carolina's 30-15 win over St. Louis, which pulled the Panthers up to 3-3 this season with a game against 0-6 Tampa Bay Thursday night (one of the things is pictured above -- Captain Munnerlyn's pick-6 interception return on the Rams' first play from scrimmage.)
1) Cam Newton. The quarterback had his second straight extremely accurate game. He went 15 for 17 for 204 yards with one TD and zero INTs, and one of the two incompletions was a drop. When Newton is throwing it like that, very few teams will beat Carolina. Now he needs to get a few more short-yardage carries, as the Mike Tolbert handoff is getting too predictable and had bad results twice Sunday (a safety and a personal foul penalty on Tolbert).
2) Steve Smith. His 800th career reception was a memorable one, as he scored on a 19-yard TD and left two Rams defenders grabbing air. The biggest star of the Rams/Panthers double OT playoff game from 10 years ago looked like he was 24 again on that play.
3) Captain Munnerlyn. The game's first play from scrimmage resulted in a pick-six for Munnerlyn. It was a heck of a play by No.41, who had to make a diving catch of Sam Bradford. Bradford's weirdly off-target throw (it was apparently tipped) and then weaved his way down the left sideline for a 45-yard TD. Munnerlyn later had a nice fumble recovery, too, on a fumble caused by Mike Mitchell, who was the subject of my Sunday column and was very active in the game (drawing a personal-foul penalty and making a sack among other things). He also hit Bradford going out of bounds, knocking the Rams quarterback from the game.
4) Graham Gano. Has this kicker been huge this year or what? Gano hasn't missed all season and hit three more on Sunday. His 50-yarder Sunday with 11:32 to go put the Panthers three possessions clear of the Rams (making the score 30-12) and basically clinched the game. Gano has been having a Pro Bowl-type season through six games.
5) The crowd. On a beautiful blue-sky day, Panther fans had a lot of things to cheer about and did so (with a side helping of fights that further inflamed them). The pink-themed halftime celebration was also well done.
6) Quintin Mikell. The former Ram didn't get suckered in when St. Louis went for it on fourth-and-goal from the 1 in the first quarter, guarding perfectly against the play-action pass and forcing an incompletion. Mikell also came on a safety blitz and bothered Bradford on Munnerlyn's pick-six.
Posted by Scott Fowler at 4:12 PM