Even in a game where the Cowboys and Panthers failed to put many points on the board [b][url=http://www.pantherscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-hats]Carolina Panthers Hats[/url][/b] , there were several statistical happenings worthy of note. The defensive side of the ball provided most of these. Luke Kuechly and Kawann Short repeatedly made their respective presences felt and that resulted in the duo being the top two ranked players on the Panthers defense according to Pro Football Focus. Kuechly amassed 13 tackles en route to his team high grade and sank several hundred thousand Carolina hearts as he hobbled off the field with a lower leg injury. Thankfully, he was able to return to the field to finish his bidding and now sits second in the league in total tackles. For his part, Kawann Short terrorized the shaky interior of the Cowboys offensive line and finished the day with a game high two sacks and four quarterback hits. He was one of eight players to tally a pair of sacks in the NFL’s opening weekend. He was joined in the sack column by Mario Addison and Wes Horton, who each had 1.5 sacks, as well as Shaq Thompson who had a sack of his own to go along with his 9 tackles. All of that culminated in a Panthers defense that finished week 1 ranked third in both yards and points allowed. The offense was unsurprisingly led by quarterback Cam Newton, who accounted for nearly 75% of the Panthers’ total yardage. Newton put up ho-hum numbers as a passer but did a lot of damage as part of the Panthers main triumvirate of runners alongside Christian McCaffrey and CJ Anderson. The trio combined for 143 yards on 30 carries, a healthy 4.77 yards per tote. McCaffrey also reprised his role earning the team’s most targets, finishing the contest with 6 catches on 9 targets for an additional 45 yards receiving. Devin Funchess led the Panthers aerial attack in the second half after tight end Greg Olsen left with a foot injury. After failing to secure either of his two official targets in the first half, the third year pro hauled in all three of his targets for 41 yards in the game’s second half.Notable Snap Counts9 players were on the field for 100% of the team’s snaps: Cam Newton, Taylor Moton, Greg Van Roten, Ryan Kalil, Trai Turner, James Bradberry, Donte Jackson, Mike Adams, and Shaq Thompson.McCaffrey dominated the backfield snaps [b][url=http://www.pantherscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-hoodie]Carolina Panthers Hoodie[/url][/b] , taking the field for 57 snaps compared to Anderson’s 12.Rookie DJ Moore was on the field for 17 snaps, fourth among the team’s wide receiversColin Jones got all 21 of the snaps missed by starting safety Da’Norris Searcy. Rookie Rashaan Gaulden did not see the field on defense, but did get 9 snaps on special teams. Plays to Love, Plays to Hate (aka “P2L, P2H”) looks at the most significant plays in swinging momentum and impacting the eventual outcome of the game. There is always plenty to hate about NFL officiating, so we will only focus on the plays on the field, not the refs.Three plays to love2nd Quarter 0:01 – Panthers 10, Seahawks 10. Panthers attempt 25-yard field goalThe Situation: The Panthers looked to close out the first half with a chip shot field goal to take a 13-10 halftime lead. The Play: Michael Palardy made an excellent play by handling a surprisingly bad snap from J.J. Jansen which skidded along the turf by executing a perfect hold for Graham Gano’s successful field goal. Many holders would have likely mishandled this errant snap and blew the field goal, but Palardy saved this one.3rd Quarter 3:35 – Panthers 13, Seahawks 17. Panthers ball 1st-and-10 at SEA 35The Situation: The Panthers had been inept in the red zone all day. They were driving late in the third quarter and desperately needed a touchdown.The Play: Christian McCaffrey took a well-executed screen pass and darted 21 yards to the Seattle 12. But at the end of the play CMC fumbled, potentially causing yet another red zone disaster. Fortunately for the Panthers, lead blocker Ryan Kalil alertely dove on the ball and preserved the possession. McCaffrey concluded the drive with a 1-yard touchdown and a 20-17 Panthers lead. Any time a lineman recovers a key fumble 20-plus yards downfield, that’s a play to love. 4th Quarter 9:27 – Panthers 20, Seahawks 20. Panthers ball 1st-and-10 at CAR 25The Situation: There are two plays to love here: CMC’s long run and Greg Olsen’s huge fumble recovery. The Seahawks had just tied the game at 20 early in the fourth quarter.The Play(s): Christian McCaffrey ran through a gaping hole created by Chris Clark, Greg Van Roten, and Ryan Kalil and galloped 59 yards to the Seattle 16. Two plays later CMC tried to punch it in from the 1 yard line but he fumbled (again). Greg Olsen made a clutch recovery to avoid a disastrous turnover. McCaffrey scored two plays later for a 27-20 Panthers lead.Three plays to hate3rd Quarter 8:52 – Panthers 13, Seahawks 10. Seahawks ball 3rd-and-12 at SEA 33The Situation: Despite some early red zone ineptitude [b][url=http://www.pantherscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-customized]Cheap Customized Carolina Panthers Jerseys[/url][/b] , the Panthers had a 13-10 lead at halftime. Cam Newton started off the third quarter with a red zone interception. Seattle faced a 3rd-and-12 on their first possession of the second half. The Play: James Bradberry lost his footing and stumbled, allowing David Moore to get wide open en route to a 54-yard gain to the Carolina 13. Instead of punting from deep in their own territory, Seattle scored a touchdown two plays later to go up 17-13.4th Quarter 3:33 – Panthers 27, Seahawks 20. Seahawks ball 4th-and-3 at CAR 35The Situation: Seattle decided to go for it on 4th-and-3 trailing by seven with 3:33 remaining. If the Panthers defense could get a stop here, Carolina would be in prime position to put the game away. The Play: David Moore simply beat Corn Elder on a streak and hauled in a back-breaking touchdown to tie the game at 27. Donte Jackson was injured in the first quarter which thrust Elder into a prominent role in this game. He wasn’t ready for prime time.4th Quarter 1:07 – Panthers 27, Seahawks 27. Seahawks ball 3rd-and-5 at SEA 47The Situation: Graham Gano missed a go-ahead 52-yard field goal with 1:45 remaining in a tied game. Seattle took possession at their own 42. The Panthers defense forced a 3rd-and-5 from the Seattle 47 and a stop here would likely result in a Seahawks three-and-out punt.The Play: Russell Wilson bought time as Tyler Lockett ran away from Captain Munnerlyn in coverage. Lockett hauled in a bomb and picked up 43 yards down to the Carolina 10 yard line. Seattle ran down the clock to kick an easy game-winning 31-yard field goal with no time left.Closing it out and summing it upThere were actually seven legitimate plays I considered for the “Plays to Hate” section and it was hard to narrow it down to three. Here are the honorable mentions:1st quarter - Getting stuffed on 4th-and-2 from the Seattle 5 yard line for a turnover on downs. 2nd quarter - Captain Munnerlyn gets beat by Tyler Lockett on 3rd-and-4 for a 27-yard gain, extending a drive that ended with Seattle’s first touchdown. 3rd quarter - Cam’s red zone interception on a forced throw to a tightly-covered Chris Manhertz, of all people. 4th quarter - Gano’s missed 52-yard field goal with 1:45 left in a tied game.On the positive side, Christian McCaffrey (125 rushing, 112 receiving) was incredible and set the Panthers record for yards from scrimmage. Cam Newton (25-30, 256 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT, plus 63 rushing yards) continued his elite play. D.J. Moore had eight receptions (on nine targets) for 91 yards and is emerging as Carolina’s best wide receiver. The Panthers front seven was great against the run, allowing just 75 rushing yards on 28 attempts (2.7 YPC). But the bad in this game was really bad. So, so bad. The red zone ineptitude. Corn. Captain. The inability of the offense to convert in short yardage situations. The inability of the defense to stop Seattle in short yardage situations. A once promising 6-2 start now swirls around the toilet bowl at 6-5. The 2018 Carolina Panthers are “competers”, not “contenders.” They are good enough to be competitive in most games but lack the consistency and coaching to regularly emerge victorious as true contenders usually do. But let’s keep hope alive until the Panthers are mathematically eliminated! While the Saints are running away with the NFC South [b][url=http://www.panthersfootballauthentic.com]www.panthersfootballauthentic.com[/url][/b] , crazy things can happen with the Wild Card. Last year both the Tennessee Titans and Buffalo Bills grabbed a Wild Card berth with 9-7 records. In 2016 the Lions snuck in at 9-7. Yes, it’s gloomy ‘round these parts right now, but with two winnable games coming up against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Cleveland Browns, let’s not throw in the towel just yet. Plays to love season leaders5 - D.J. Moore4 - Christian McCaffrey3 - Cam Newton, James Bradberry2 - Devin Funchess, Efe Obada, Greg Olsen, Kyle Love, Ryan Kalil, Torrey Smith, 1 - Ben Jacobs, Colin Jones, Chris Clark, David Mayo, Donte Jackson, Eric Reid, Graham Gano [b][url=http://www.panthersfootballauthentic.com/t-shirts-authentic]Carolina Panthers T-Shirt[/url][/b] , Greg Van Roten, Jarius Wright, Julius Peppers, Kawann Short, Mario Addison, Michael Palardy, Norv Turner, Ron Rivera, Taylor Heinicke, Wes HortonPlays to hate season leaders4 -Cam Newton, Eric Reid, Mike Adams3 - James Bradberry2 - Captain Munnerlyn, Christian McCaffrey, D.J. Moore, Dontari Poe, Eric Washington, Graham Gano1 - Amini Silatolu [b][url=http://www.panthersfootballauthentic.com/hats-authentic]Carolina Panthers Hats[/url][/b] , C.J. Anderson, Colin Jones, Corn Elder, Devin Funchess, Donte Jackson, Ian Thomas, Luke Kuechly, Norv Turner, Ron Rivera, Thomas Davis, Trai Turner
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