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‘Gamers & Lamers’ in Panthers Vs. Buccaneers Week 13 Game: A Fan’s Analysis
So this is what a winning streak feels like!
After defeating the Indianapolis Colts in Week 12, the Carolina Panthers beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 13, stringing together back-to-back wins for the first time since the end of the 2009 season. In the process, Cam Newton(notes) also broke the NFL record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback in a single season. I did not think it was possible to enjoy a 4-8 team this much, but I am thoroughly enjoying the ride.
While the NFL post game shows cover the scoring plays, I look for the less visible but equally crucial plays that sustain drives, spring the big plays, or change momentum. Here is my analysis, as a Panthers fan, of these key plays, both good ("The Gamers") and bad ("The Lamers") that took place during Carolina's Week 13 road victory over the Tampa Buccaneers.
10:39, Thomas Keiser(notes), DE - Gamer. Panthers lead 7-0, TB ball on TB 20. On 3rd-and-13 the Bucs attempted a pass. DE Thomas Keiser broke through the line and dropped QB Josh Johnson(notes) for a 12-yard loss, forcing a 4th-and-25 punt from the Bucs' own 8 yard line. Carolina had great starting field position as a result of Keiser's sack and converted their next drive with another touchdown.
7:36, Rob Chudzinski, Off Coord - Gamer. Panthers lead 7-0, CAR ball on TB 29. Under the John Fox regime, two words that could never be used to describe the offensive play calling were "razzle" and "dazzle". New offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski's game plans have been a welcome relief for Panthers fans. On 1st-and-10 the Panthers went trips right and Cam Newton threw a backward pass to WR Legedu Naanee(notes). After making the pass, Newton drifted toward the left sideline along with a convoy of blockers. Naanee threw a pass back to Newton who sprinted down the sideline for a 27-yard pickup, getting tackled on the Bucs' 2-yard line. Three plays later Jonathan Stewart(notes) punched in a touchdown for a 14-0 Carolina lead. Panthers fans, say hello to your new friends - razzle and dazzle!
:44, Byron Bell(notes), T - Lamer. Panthers lead 14-3, Car ball on CAR 18. Bell was beaten on consecutive plays by rookie DE Da'Quan Bowers(notes) for sacks on second and third downs resulting in losses of three and six yards. Carolina was forced to punt from their own nine yard line as a result of the back-to-back sacks, allowing Tampa Bay to begin their next drive on the Panthers' 47 yard line. The good starting field position contributed to the Buccaneers netting a field goal on their next possession.
11:42, Charles Johnson(notes), DE - Gamer. Panthers lead 14-3, TB ball on CAR 17. The Bucs were facing a 3rd-and-2 in the red zone. WR Arrellous Benn came in motion from left to right and took a handoff without breaking stride. Charles Johnson sniffed out the misdirection and exploded through the offensive line. Benn cut backward trying to avoid Johnson, but the Panthers DE dropped Benn for a big 12-yard loss, forcing a difficult 47-yard field goal which Tampa Bay converted, reducing the Panthers' lead to 14-6.
7:04, Captain Munnerlyn(notes), CB - Lamer. Panthers lead 21-6, TB ball on TB 20. Following a Cam Newton to Legedu Naanee touchdown pass, the Bucs took the kickoff for a touchback and began from their own 20. On first down Greg Hardy(notes) sacked QB Josh Johnson for a nine yard loss. However, the sack was nullified because Captain Munnerlyn held WR Mike Williams and drew a defensive holding penalty. Instead of 2nd-and-19 from their own 11 yard line, Tampa Bay had a fresh set of downs from their own 25. Munnerlyn's penalty likely extended this drive which ended with a Buccaneers' field goal.
:13, Jordan Gross(notes), T - Gamer. Panthers lead 21-12, Car ball on CAR 44. The Panthers had one last shot to get into field goal position before the half. Cam Newton lined up in shotgun as Tampa Bay DE Adrian Calyborn came on a hard, wide blitz from Newton's left. Tackle Jordan Gross sustained his block on Clayborn, who ended up on the ground. This allowed Newton to spin to his left, set his feet, and complete a 31-yard pass to WR Brandon LaFell(notes), putting Olindo Mare(notes) in position to nail a 43-yard field goal as the half expired, pushing the Panthers' lead to 24-12.
10:40, Greg Hardy, DE - Gamer. Panthers lead 24-12, TB ball on CAR 30. The Bucs were mounting a strong nine-play drive to start the second half and were within field goal range. On 3rd-and-8 QB Josh Johnson lined up in shotgun. There was confusion at the line of scrimmage and the center snapped the ball before Johnson was ready and the o-line was slow to get out of their stances. DE Greg Hardy immediately hit the flustered Johnson as Tampa Bay's QB made an ill advised pass. The ball fluttered a few yards forward, right into the hands of the Panthers DE Thomas Keiser for a drive-ending interception.
8:05, Jordan Gross, T and Greg Olsen(notes), TE - Gamers. Panthers lead 24-12, CAR ball on TB 23. On 1st-and-10 Cam Newton lined up under center with Richie Brockle at full back and DeAngelo Williams(notes) deep in the I-formation. Newton faked a handoff to Brockle to his right then spun to his left to run an option with Williams. Tampa Bay CB Rhonde Barber keyed on Williams and Newton kept the ball. TE Greg Olsen and T Jordan Gross both made nice blocks on the second level of the defense more than 10 yards down field, springing Newton for a 20-yard gain. The Panthers scored a touchdown on a Cam Newton run two plays later.
13:32, Geoff Hangartner(notes), G & Mackenzy Bernadeau(notes), G - Gamers. Panthers lead 31-12, Car ball on CAR 40. Facing a long 3rd-and-14 Cam Newton lined up in shotgun. Geoff Hangartner chipped the defensive tackle then slid to double team block on DE Da'Quan Bowers. The defensive tackle ended up five yards away from Cam Newton while Bowers ended up on the ground. On the other side of the line, G Mackenzy Bernadeau completely neutralized DT Albert Haynesworth(notes) in a one-on-one matchup. The pocket held as Newton had ample time to step forward and hit a wide open Legedu Naanee for a 19-yard reception and a first down. The Panthers iced the game with yet another Cam Newton touchdown run to end this long drive.
6:43, Chris Gamble(notes), CB - Lamer. Panthers lead 38-12, TB ball on CAR 23. Tampa Bay went hurry-up as the rout was officially on. On 1st-and-10 CB Chris Gamble was in man coverage on WR Desmon Briscoe. Briscoe ran a fly pattern down the right sideline, completely leaving Chris Gamble in the dust as Briscoe caught an uncontested touchdown in the end zone. Johson-to-Briscoe ain't exactly Montana-to-Rice and Gamble's coverage on this play was terrible.
3:25, Andre Neblett(notes), DT - Gamer. Panthers lead 38-19, TB ball on CAR 20. Tampa Bay faced a 3rd-and-1 as they hustled to convert a garbage time score in the red zone. The Bucs ran RB Mossis Madu(notes) straight up the middle on the short yardage play. DT Andre Neblett executed a perfect swim move to shed his blocker and dropped Madu in the backfield for a 2-yard loss, a fitting way to end a solid effort from the defensive line.
The Panthers now stand at 4-8 and the offense is on fire. Over the last three games Carolina has scored 35, 27, and 38 points and the offensive flow is only getting better. The Panthers defense continues to suffer debilitating injuries, this time by losing both starting DT's as rookies Terrell McClain(notes) and Sione Fua(notes) in Week 13. While the secondary remains healthy, the defensive line and linebacker corp has been decimated. On the bright side, the injuries have allowed reserves like Andre Neblett and Thomas Keiser to get important reps and be surprisingly productive as Panthers fans hope for a more healthy defense next year.
But in the mean time we will continue to watch in amazement as Cam Newton surpasses all expectations, setting records - and now winning games - along the way.
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