The Carolina Panthers put on quite a show as they beat the San Francisco 49ers 23-3! Let’s start with the fantastic performance by their defense. Luke Kuechly dominated as he intercepted Hoyer at the beginning of the second half! That pick proved that Kuechly is back in midseason form and he will help lead the Panthers defense. Luke is the linebacker that will always produce for the Panthers and keep the offense quiet. Wes Horton started the show for the defense as he caused a strip sack in the first quarter. His play set up a great drive that ended with a 40 yard touchdown pass to Russell Shepard. Sometimes the slightest known players will make a important play and prove their talent.
The defense as a whole helped stop the 49ers on fourth downs. The 49ers only converted 1 out of 3 conversions. An important stop was when San Francisco was at the goal line in the fourth quarter but the defense stood strong and Mario Addison was there to tackle Hyde after a short reception. This Panthers defense is looking very similar to the 2015 NFC Champion version of the Panthers defense because the 49ers only rushed for 51 yards in the whole game and the offense only made one field goal! Julius Peppers showed that even though he is 37 he can still make an impact on the team. His highlight today was split sacking Hoyer. Shaq Thompson also had a crucial sack causing the 49ers offense to move further back and have longer 3rd downs.
Kurt Coleman was on the rise with Bradberry and Worley managing to stop the receivers from gaining large amounts of yards. As we take it to the offensive side of the game Cam Newton did look a bit rusty in the first half but in the second half he was 7 of 7! It takes time for Newton to get in his comfort zone but it is true that he did not play enough in the preseason. Russell Shepard who was on the Buccaneers last season reeled in his longest touchdown reception in his career for 40 yards. Cam Newton scrambled out of the pocket for a first down in the second half. His rushing game is back!
The run game was successful with Stewart and McCaffrey both running for big gains. Jonathan Stewart had one touchdown but McCaffrey did not. Stewart had 18 carries and ran for 65 yards. Christian McCaffrey had 13 carries and rushed for 47 yards. Nothing can stop the Carolina offense and we will see how they do in week two. The Panthers look strong as they head into their next game with the Bills. The defense won’t let up and the offense is rolling. 1-0 is the way to start! Keep Pounding!