The Carolina Panthers picked up a 26-15 victory over the Washington Redskins on Monday night. It might be a meaningless win, but man it feels good to win.
Cam Newton: Once again; it’s amazing what Cam can do when he has time. Cam was sacked twice (really once as one sack was for 0 yards) in the game. Otherwise, he had strong protection all game and he found the open man. Cam finished with 300 yards and two touchdowns, including a bomb to Ted Ginn on a busted coverage by Washington. Cam would have finished with better numbers if not for some drops. He wasn’t a factor in the run game, but he continue to prove that he’s one of the best quarterbacks in the league when he isn’t scrambling for his life on every play. I was surprised that he didn’t go after Josh Norman more, but it was nice to see him be smart with the football.
Winners and Losers: Who’s stepping up as the season reaches its close?
Mailbag:: What’s up with all the “cheating”?
QB Rankings::: A big shift in this week’s rankings
Jonathan Stewart: Stewart has been quiet pretty much all season, but he churned out 132 tough yards against the Redskins. Part of the reason as to why Cam has struggled this year has been due to the poor run game. The Panthers love to run the ball, but oftentimes it’s not straight up power football. It’s a lot of read option, zone read, and pass-run read. If Stewart isn’t picking up yards, the read becomes obsolete and teams are able to rush free or play the pass. When Stewart runs like he did against Washington, the Panthers offense becomes what you saw last year.
The Defense: I thought the entire defense was outstanding. Washington ran the ball for 29 yards on 13 carries. Kirk Cousins threw for 315 yards and DeSean Jackson had 111 yards, but there was no huge play where a guy got burned over the top. Cousins made a lot of tough throws and Jackson made some tough catches. It wasn’t poor defense, it was simply two offensive players making plays. The Panthers only recorded one sack, but it was a strip sack, and Kurt Coleman came away with an interception. Strong performance by the defense in a game where they no doubt wanted to prove that they are just fine without Norman.
Kelvin Benjamin & Devin Funchess: It’s nice to have tall and imposing wide receivers, but if those tall and imposing receivers can’t create separation, what good are they? I’m not sure there has been a more disappointing receiver duo in the league this year. Benjamin, who was shadowed by Norman for most of the night, finished with two catches for 20 yards. I’ll give credit to Norman, but it’s not like this was a one-time thing for Benjamin. He’s disappeared in plenty of games this year against far worse corners. I had the same amount of catches and yards as Funchess.
The Walk Off
Referee’s: Cam gets hit in the head, for at least the 10th time this year, and it wasn’t called. Kirk Cousins gets forcefully pushed out of bounds, while still in bound, it’s a personal foul. Sorry, but this has happened too many times to be a coincidence. Cam isn’t afforded the same protection as every other quarterback. He’s not even afforded the same protection as receivers at this point. Everyone sees this except Roger Goodell. And if Goodell sees it, but still isn’t doing anything about it, well that’s a much bigger problem.