Sunday, December 21, 2014

A perfect Sunday for the Panthers (Carolina win, Saints loss)

The roulette wheel season of the Carolina Panthers took two spins for the good Sunday, as the Panthers edged Cleveland, 17-13, and Atlanta beat New Orleans.

Just like that, New Orleans was out of the NFC South race. The Panthers and Falcons will now play one game to decide the division next Sunday in Atlanta, with the winner hosting a playoff game in early January (likely against Green Bay, Detroit or Seattle) and the loser done for the season.

Carolina played a very unimpressive second half for the first 20 minutes, going down 13-10 when Cleveland's Brian Hoyer beat the Panthers on an 81-yard touchdown pass that shocked the stadium.

The Panthers, roused from their slumber, then came back on an excellent TD drive thanks mostly to quarterback Cam Newton, who scrambled around and hit Jonathan Stewart for a nine-yard TD pass that proved to be the improvisational difference. Cleveland got the ball back once, punted at midfield, and Carolina then ran out the clock thanks in large part to a big 30-yard Jonathan Stewart run.

I don't believe the game would have been nearly as close had Johnny Manziel stayed in it -- he made exactly one good throw during his time. But Manziel got hurt in the second quarter on a designed run when he was crushed by Carolina's Colin Jones and Luke Kuechly, and Hoyer came in and looked better. (Newton afterward said the Panther fans who cheered Manziel's injury were "classless" and that "We're better than that" -- he was absolutely right on both counts).

In the meantime, the Falcons went down 7-0 in the first 20 seconds, then scored 20 straight points and whipped the Saints, 30-14, in New Orleans. That knocked the Saints (6-9) out of the race. Carolina (6-8-1) and Atlanta (6-9) both stayed alive, with the Panthers now a few percentage points ahead in the standings entering the final week.

It was the Panthers' third straight win. Like last week against Tampa Bay, it wasn't very impressive. However, it again got the job done, leaving the Panthers a trip down I-85 next Sunday to decide the NFC South.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

So the Panthers might win next week... That means that they'll probably lose to either Detroit, Green Bay, or Seattle in the first game of the playoffs. They get in means nothing more than a little bit of PR... They shouldn't even be in the hunt this year - and many of us are completely aware of that fact.

Chris Tober said...

scott falcons are 6-9 not 7-8

Scott Fowler said...

Thanks, Chris, for pointing that out. I fixed it.

JE said...

Many of the people around me who were cheering when Manziel was hurt were wearing Browns gear.

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:51, I'll take my chances with that. We already beat Detroit this year and we played Seattle close. Yes we got crushed by the Packers, but if we played them at home we would have a better shot. If we were able to win in Atlanta next week, we would be carrying a four game win streak to the playoffs. In the playoffs, anything can happen. This season hasn't been great, but the Panthers are playing their best ball of the season right now.

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:51-how bout you just shut your big fat yapper and let the rest of us just #keeppounding?

J Whelan said...

Actually, a more likely first round opponent would be Arizona, if Sesttle beats them tonight and Green Bay wins at home next week vs Detroit.

Anonymous said...

After the Sunday night game, I'm pretty sure if we win, we face Arizona as long as Seattle beats the Rams.

Anonymous said...

Scott how are the Saints out of it? If they win and the Panthers & Falcons tie? They'd have 7 wins against 6 right?

Unknown said...

When the booing started after Manziel's injury, the Panther Fans around me immediately chastised them.

Anonymous said...

Why do you comment something negative when they have won 3 straight???? Quit wasting your time reading these articles if you are not a fan. The point each year is to reach the playoffs. Go Panthers!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

really 451 don't be a huge buzz kill. bet you just told some toddlers about santa claus you tool. sure they might lose, might not be favored. so? go panthers.