By Danny Cox
Starting out the season 1-3 isn’t easy for any team in the NFL, but it is no reason to give up. That is exactly what was going through the minds of the Carolina Panthers as they took on the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday and demolished them 35-10 while showing excellence on both sides of the ball, on the sidelines, and everywhere imaginable.
Coaching Grade: A+
Ron Rivera went into Sunday’s game with a plan to show that the Panthers still had a lot of talented players and could handle anyone they came across. After all was said and done, they had handily defeated the Vikings and did it with a well-balanced game plan. With 236 yards through the air and 131 yards on the ground, the team executed a balanced attack that allowed for some decent runs and big plays through the air.
It was a great job all around by Rivera and all of his assistants as they truly couldn’t have drawn up a better game plan or called a better game.
Offense Grade: A
Cam Newton looked like the Cam Newton of old as he threw for three touchdowns and ran for another one in this rout of the Vikings. He completed 20 of 26 passes for 242 yards and had another 30 yards on the ground. The majority of his passing yards went to Brandon LaFell who had only four catches, but one was a 79-yard bomb for a score.
Speaking of looking like their old selves, DeAngelo Williams didn’t have a lot of yards but showed signs of his former self. Williams had 64 yards on the ground and 53 yards receiving, but his strong, pounding ways made it look like he was finally enjoying himself out on the field once again.
Defense Grade: A
Vikings quarterback Matt Cassel was hounded throughout the day by the Panthers defense that sacked him three times and caused him to throw two interceptions. While Minnesota is having a bit of a signal-caller issue, any player would have had problems against the Panthers defense on Sunday afternoon.
And yes, while Adrian Peterson did likely have a lot of distractions on his mind, he still is dangerous any time he is out on the field. The Panthers held the reigning NFL MVP to just 62 yards on the ground on 10 carries. Thomas Davis, who had two sacks of his own, and the rest of the team just showed their dominance and it was proven on the scoreboard.
Special Teams Grade: B
There were no huge problems to be found here at all, but there has got to be more success from the return game. Ted Ginn Jr. returned three punts for only 22 total yards and had a mere 31 yards on two kickoff returns. That didn’t always amount to the best starting field position, but it was adequate.
Graham Gano was perfect on extra points and didn’t even attempt a field goal. Brad Nortman punted three times but he had a measly 33-yard average on the day.
For more Carolina Panthers news and updates, visit Carolina Panthers Central.
Danny Cox knows a little something about the NFL, whether it means letting you know what penalty will come from the flag just thrown on the field or quickly spouting off who the Chicago Bears drafted in the first round of the 1987 draft (Jim Harbaugh). He plans on bringing you the best news, previews, recaps, and anything else that may come along with the exciting world of the National Football League. Danny is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.