I thought Carolina had a good shot at winning this game at Washington, and I turned out to be right. Carolina didn’t play a dominant game, and it certainly wasn’t flashy, but they got it done on offense for at least 3 drives and that turned out to be enough. They managed 330 total yards, and 81 came on one play with a pass to Edwards. Take that pass away, and Newton ends up with only 120 yards. Like I said, it wasn’t flashy, but effective enough.
The curious move was that the Panthers looked to have abandoned Stewart as a feature back. He got just 10 carries despite playing very well in limited action. Williams received 8, Tolbert 3, and Newton took the ball 8 times on the ground. Stewart is certainly the main man in the rotation, but it looks like it is a rotation.
For the defense, they actually played well again in this one. Another 4 sacks in all kept Griffin honest in the pocket. Greg Hardy has had a great last 2 games with another 1.5 sacks. Charles Johnson had 2 more of his own. In the last 2 contests, the two have combined for a remarkable 8.5 sacks. With the secondary featuring so many question marks, the improved pas rush has been huge for the Panthers. Jumping off to an early lead that they never let go of kept them working through the air. They took a 21-6 lead by the fourth, which limited the action of Alfred Morris. The rookie runner played well with 76 yards, but only got the ball 13 times. RGIII has a lot of talent, but not great receivers around him. With Garcon out, the receiving corps are pretty ordinary.
This won’t turn the season around, but Carolina played a complete game of football today. If they can do this a few more times this year then maybe they have more to work with next year than many believe.