Thursday, January 8, 2015

How Johnny Manziel almost wrecked Panther season

I am writing a story for Friday's newspaper and online about the 10 defining plays of the Panthers' surprising season. To do so, I enlisted the help from a panel of 10 current Panthers as well as coach Ron Rivera.

The following play, described by enthusiastic Panther cornerback Josh Norman, ultimately didn't make the final cut. But it was interesting.

The way Norman sees it, the Panthers knocking Cleveland rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel out of the game on Dec.21st nearly ruined Carolina's season. Manziel, in other words, nearly wrecked the Panthers' year by getting hurt.

Needing to beat Cleveland at home to make the playoffs, the Panthers' Colin Jones and Luke Kuechly combined on a hit of Manziel early in the second quarter on a designed run by Manziel. Manziel tried to get up, couldn't (you can see him reaching for his leg in this picture from The Observer's Jeff Siner, which shows the aftermath of the tackle) and left the game with a hamstring injury. Brian Hoyer -- a player Norman considers a far better quarterback -- replaced Manziel and nearly led the Browns to a win.

"We were [unhappy] that he didn't stay in," Norman said of Manziel, who ended up 3-for-8 for 32 yards. "It was like, 'Oh, ----, now we've got a better quarterback.'"

Hoyer threw an 81-yard TD pass in the fourth quarter that put Cleveland ahead, 13-10. If the Browns had held on, Carolina would have finished 6-9-1 and New Orleans would have won the NFC South. Instead, Carolina got a late touchdown on Cam Newton's nine-yard pass to Jonathan Stewart (which did make the "top 10" cut). But Norman said the outcome never would have been in doubt and that the Panthers would have won much more easily had Manziel not been knocked out of the game.

"If he [Manziel] had stayed in, it would been a nightmare," Norman said. "His numbers would have been horrible. The best thing that happened to him was getting hurt. That was going to get ugly real quick."


John said...

Perhaps no other play so confirms the idea that Manziel is not going to be a successful NFL QB. 31 of 32 NFL QBs take that hit and get back up and stay in the game. There is nothing "money" about a QB that's knocked out by what sure looked like a pretty routine hit!

Anonymous said...

With the Seahawks game coming up and facing a tuff lost of Star were focusing on Johnny Manziel and what could have been. Give me a break dude. Stop living in the past and focus on the task at hand. This truly adds no value to your career talking about what could have been. Were here you idiot focus on legitimate topics and leave Johnny Manziel out to dry with his high schools antics. Dream and envision big and stop dwelling on the past or what could have been.

Anonymous said...

Manziel was not going to beat car df, like I said "Get Over It Doubters!!! As if Rivera can't coach! How did they come this far? By Winning! They've come too far to look back now! They beat the Saints who has a loud Superdome,they can beat Seattle as well! They Will Win This Game!

Anonymous said...

Regardless of how you may believe Manziel would have finished the game, he wasn't "knocked" out of the game , he injured his hamstring on the play before the one in question. Typical ignorant knee-jerk comments.

Anonymous said...

They were doing an article about the top 10 plays that defined the season. So it was a topic that was asked about... He isn't living in the past you moron. He's answering a reporters question... We could inversely say "hey, you're living in the past. Quit commenting on it and live in the present"!! Give it a rest my friend. In the meantime #keeppounding

Sportsdon said...

Manziel tweaked it before that play. It wasn't the hit, but the sprint to the sideline that did it. Regardless I didn't like seeing Hoyer come into the game either.